Cook County plans to open its mass vaccination sites to children ages 12 to 15 later this week after the Pfizer vaccine receives its anticipated approval from federal regulators to expand to kids in that age group.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Monday authorized emergency use of Pfizer's vaccine in children ages 12 to 15. The FDA's decision will now be followed by a meeting of the CDC's federal vaccine advisory committee, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (known as ACIP), on Wednesday to discuss whether to recommend the shot for that age group.
Cook County Health said Tuesday that the ACIP is "expected to issue a similar approval after its meeting."
"Cook County Health is looking forward to welcoming newly-eligible adolescents age 12-15 for vaccination later this week," the county said.
The county noted that parents will be able to make appointments for their children ages 12 to 15 online once CDC approval has been granted, adding that the county's mass vaccination sites will continue to accept walk-ins.
“As a physician and a parent of a 13-year-old, I am thrilled that the Pfizer vaccine will be approved for children age 12 to 15,” Cook County Health's COVID-19 vaccine coordinator Dr. Gregory Huhn said in a statement.
"We are now seeing the highest rates of COVID-19 infections in younger people," Huhn continued. "If we want kids to return to school, sports and friends as safely as possible, they should be vaccinated. It is our best chance at giving them some sense of normalcy back.”
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Chicago also announced Tuesday that its vaccination sites will open to children ages 12 to 15 beginning Thursday, with the option to book appointments now.
Appointments can be booked for Chicago sites through www.zocdoc.com/vaccine or by calling the city's call center at 312.746.4835. Chicago officials said all vaccine sites will also accept walk-ins for ages 12 to 15 beginning Thursday.
A parent or guardian must accompany any minor under age 18, the city said, and unvaccinated parents and guardians will be encouraged to receive a vaccine as well.
“Like adults, all youth age 12 and older are encouraged to get the vaccine,” CDPH Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said in a statement. “Current data show that the vaccine is safe and effective in children, and it not only protects our kids, but also their families and our communities."
"In Chicago, communities with the lowest vaccination rates continue to have high case counts and rates of hospitalization and death—even in teens and young adults," she continued. "Help us increase vaccine uptake and get past COVID by bringing your whole family to get vaccinated together.”
Other vaccination sites and providers in the Chicago area are also already scheduling appointments for children ahead of the CDC's meeting, while others are not scheduling yet but preparing to as soon as it's approved.