Following the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's emergency use authorization of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine in children ages 12 to 15 Monday, parents are searching for when and where they can get doses for their children in the Chicago area.
A number of health departments across the Chicago area have announced plans to begin vaccines as early as Thursday, pending a recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
U.S. regulators on Monday expanded use of Pfizer's shot to those as young as 12. The two-dose vaccine was already authorized for use in people 16 and older. But the FDA's decision doesn't mean vaccinations can begin right away.
The FDA's ruling will now be followed by a meeting of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's federal vaccine advisory committee, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (known as ACIP), to discuss whether to recommend the shot for 12- to 15-year-olds. The ACIP has already set an emergency meeting for Wednesday.
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Chicago's Department of Public Health announced Tuesday that COVID-19 vaccination sites will open to children ages 12 to 15 beginning Thursday, with the option to book appointments now in anticipation of the CDC's recommendation.
The city said the CDC "is expected to grant full approval on Wednesday."
A full list of Chicago sites can be found here.
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.
The Lake County Health Department announced plans to open COVID-19 vaccinations to children ages 12 to 15 years old beginning Thursday, "following the recommendation of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP)."
Parents and legal guardians can register their children on the Lake County AllVax Portal for appointments at the Lake County Fairgrounds in Grayslake or Regional Vaccination Site at 102 W. Water Street, Waukegan, health officials said.
Appointments for 12 to 15-year-olds will open in the portal within 24 hours of the ACIP vote.
Beginning Thursday, all Kane County Health Department COVID-19 vaccination sites offering Pfizer vaccine will open to those ages 12 and up.
“Families are encouraged to receive their vaccines together so that all members are protected,” Kathy Fosser, interim executive director at the Kane County Health Department, said in a statement.
The sites will be open for walk-ins, but a parent or guardian should accompany youth under age 18. If a parent or guardian is unable to attend, they can sign a consent form and allow another adult to accompany a minor. The consent form can be found online at KaneHealth.com and at KaneVax.org.
Chris Hoff, the Director for Community Health Resources in DuPage County, said last week that children ages 12-15, accompanied by a parent, will also be accepted at the community vaccination site at the DuPage County Fairgrounds.
“The goal will be to make sure the vaccine is widely available to a group that really should be prioritized for vaccine, especially as we look to school in the fall and reduction in transmission all over the community,” Hoff said.
At Northwestern Children’s Practice in Chicago’s Gold Coast neighborhood, pediatricians have already said they had the Pfizer vaccine ready to go in the specialized freezer it requires. Parents can schedule the shots for kids in the approved age group once the FDA and the CDC give the okay.
But the subzero storage may be a challenge for some pediatricians to offer it in-office.
“I think a lot of parents probably would feel more comfortable getting in their pediatrician's office, but whether you get it at the pediatrician or the pharmacy or health department, I think the shot is the shot at that point,” Dr. Scott Goldstein, a pediatrician at Northwestern Children’s Practice said.
Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital is now scheduling appointments for ages 16 and up, and will offer appointments to age 12 to 15 once approval happens.
A spokesperson for Advocate Children’s Hospital said the hospital "will be ready immediately to begin scheduling adolescents 12-15."
"We are currently already doing ages 16-18," the spokesperson said. "Will not have to be Advocate Aurora patients—we will immunize anyone in that age group. We cannot schedule until approval, but parents will be able to go to www.aah.org to schedule, once approved.”