With coronavirus vaccines for children between the ages of 5 and 11 expected to be approved in as soon as a matter of days, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker Monday outlined steps being taken by state officials ahead of the anticipated emergency-use authorization.
An independent Food and Drug Administration advisory panel will convene Tuesday to consider recommending child-size doses of Pfizer's COVID vaccine for younger children. In order for distribution to begin, the vaccine must be granted emergency-use authorization by both the FDA and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
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.
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As positive COVID-19 cases among children have spiked in recent days, Pritzker and state health leaders encourage parents to get their children vaccinated and even take action before approval is granted.
"As a parent, you should call your pediatrician now to make sure they’ve enrolled and have ordered doses," he 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.
If the FDA authorizes the shots, the CDC 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.