Nurses spent Wednesday morning opening up boxes containing 2,500 doses of the Pfizer vaccine for kids age 5 to 11 at Northwestern Children’s Practice in the Gold Coast neighborhood.
"We got all the equipment to give it with yesterday and the shots just came in an hour or so ago," pediatrician Dr. Scott Goldstein said, one day after the CDC approved an emergency use authorization.
Staff at the busy pediatric practice said phones had been ringing all morning with parents trying to make appointments. Dr. Goldstein said they plan to do a mix of scheduled appointments and walk-ins now that the vaccine has arrived.
"We have to balance our staffing with everyone’s desire to get it fast," Dr. Goldstein said.
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The timing of the vaccine’s emergency use authorization allows for most kids ages 5-11 to be fully vaccinated by the end of December.
"As long as you get your first dose in the next couple of weeks you will be able to get 2nd dose with enough time adequate time for protection before the holiday break," Dr. Goldstein said.
Illinois health officials say calling your pediatrician’s office should be any parents first step.
Pharmacies in the Chicago area, including CVS and Walgreens, also received an initial 100,000 doses and are scheduling appointments online now.
“The most common side effects for kids post-vaccine are a sore arm, fatigue and headache," said Dr. Stephanie Whyte, a pediatrician and Senior Clinical Solutions Medical Director for CVS Health.
Many school districts in the Chicago area are also planning to host vaccination clinics, with some already emailing out dates and sign-up information. Most of the clinics are scheduled for evening hours or weekends, because, unless prior consent is obtained, a parent or guardian must be present for the student to receive the vaccine.
Shots also began Wednesday at the Southwest Vaccine clinic of Esperanza Southwest Vaccine Center on Western Avenue in Chicago.
Angela Lopez’s two children were almost the first to receive the vaccine.
“I was waiting for it, to put it in them because we had COVID in the beginning and it was very scary," Lopez said.