Illinois Set to Expand Vaccine Eligibility for 16- and 17-Year-Olds, Limited Doses Available

Vaccinating children is crucial to ending the pandemic, public health officials and infectious disease experts say

COVID vaccine
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With 16- and 17-year-olds only able to receive Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker has acknowledged fewer doses will be available as compared to other ages groups, emphasizing it's not under the state's control.

Any Illinois resident age 16 years old and older, except those in the city of Chicago, will be able to book a vaccine appointment starting Monday, state officials announced earlier this week.

The Moderna and the Johnson & Johnson vaccine are only approved for those 18 and up.

"We're at a point where the variants are rising," Pritzker said at a news conference Thursday, explaining his reason for lowering the age requirement. "They're coming at the population so fast at every age, we need to make sure that we open this up to everybody."

In the city of Chicago, however, 16- and 17-year-olds won't be able to sign up to receive the vaccine until the week of April 19.

Cook County residents 16 years of age and older had the first chance to secure vaccine appointments Friday as the county released approximately 15,000 appointments at noon.

Over the state line in Indiana, vaccine eligibility was opened up to residents age 16 and older on March 31. Some Illinois vaccination sites are already offering vaccines to anyone 16 years old and up.

While Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine has been authorized for ages 16 and older, the pharmaceutical company on Friday filed a request with the Food and Drug Administration to expand the use of the vaccine to teens ages 12 to 15.

Last week, the companies announced its shot is safe and 100% effective in preventing the illness in kids as young as 12.

In the vaccine study of 2,260 U.S. volunteers ages 12 to 15, preliminary data showed there were no cases of COVID-19 among fully vaccinated adolescents compared to 18 among those given dummy shots, Pfizer reported.

Vaccinating children is crucial to ending the pandemic, public health officials and infectious disease experts say. The nation is unlikely to achieve herd immunity — when enough people in a given community have antibodies against a specific disease — until children can get vaccinated, experts say.

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