COVID vaccine

Chicago's Top Doctor to Hold COVID Update, Talk Vaccinations in Kids at 1 p.m.

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NOTE: NBC Chicago will offer a live stream of the address beginning at 1 p.m. Watch live in the player above.

Chicago's top public health officials are set to deliver an update Tuesday afternoon on coronavirus vaccines in children.

Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady and Chicago Public Schools CEO Pedro Martinez are scheduled to speak at 1 p.m. from City Hall.

The press conference aims to "provide an update on COVID-19 case data and vaccinations in Chicago and in Chicago Public Schools, and will discuss plans to roll out vaccine to 5-11-year-olds when approval comes from federal health officials."

Their address comes on the same day a Food and Drug Administration's panel of expert advisers is set to debate whether the Pfizer shots are ready for the nation’s roughly 28 million children ages 5 to 11.

The Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee will review Pfizer's data and hear from regulators in an all-day meeting on the safety and efficacy of the vaccine, and to vote on whether the vaccine's benefits outweigh any serious potential side effects in children.

If the panel votes in favor and the FDA authorizes the shots, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will make additional recommendations on who should receive them the first week of November. Children could begin vaccinations early next month -- with the first youngsters in line fully protected by Christmas.

Already, preparations are underway across Illinois.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker said COVID vaccinations for kids as young as 5 could begin next week in the state.

Speaking during a coronavirus update Monday, Pritzker said that should the vaccine be approved for that age group by the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, administration could begin by "early to mid next week."

"We will have those vaccines in hand and we'll be able to begin vaccinating young children 5 to 11," he told reporters.

Pritzker also outlined steps being taken by state officials ahead of the anticipated emergency-use authorization.

In Illinois, more than 2,200 locations and providers, including family medicine practices, urgent care centers and public health clinics, have enrolled to provide doses to children, Pritzker said in a news release.

Initially, the state will receive approximately 306,000 doses for kids 5 to 11, with an additional 73,000 doses for the city of Chicago and more than 100,000 headed to federal government pharmacy partners.

"As a parent, you should call your pediatrician now to make sure they’ve enrolled and have ordered doses," Pritzker said. "And I will do everything in my power to continue to follow the science and keep our kids safe.”

Federal health regulators said late Friday that child-size doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine appear highly effective at preventing symptomatic infections in elementary school children and caused no unexpected safety issues.

In their analysis, FDA scientists concluded that in almost every scenario the vaccine's benefit for preventing hospitalizations and death from COVID-19 would outweigh any serious potential side effects in children.

In an effort to make sure as many children receive the vaccine as possible, the Illinois Department of Public Health has reached out to more than 700 elementary school districts to offer parent-approved vaccination clinics.

Statewide mobile vaccination teams have already conducted more than 870 school and youth events for 12- to 17-year-olds, children currently eligible for the Pfizer vaccine.

More than two-thirds of kids age 12 to 17 have received at least one dose in Illinois, the only Midwest state to hit the milestone, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Illinois is requiring that all providers take part in mandatory trainings on pediatric vaccination guidelines, officials said.

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