As Illinois expands COVID vaccine eligibility to any resident age 16 and older, there's one important difference for those under the age of 18.
That's because 16- and 17-year-olds can only receive Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine.
The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is the only one of the three vaccines currently being administered in the U.S. to be authorized for emergency use by FDA for individuals 16 years of age and older.
The Moderna and the Johnson & Johnson vaccine are authorized for those 18 and up.
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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.
"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. Elsewhere, in McHenry County, the mass vaccination site is reportedly administering the Pfizer vaccine, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.
In addition, several mass vaccination sites and health departments, like Kane County, are offering specific appointments for the Pfizer vaccine. Jewel Osco also offers residents the option to look for appointments for a specific vaccine.
While Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine has been authorized for ages 16 and older, the pharmaceutical company last week filed a request with the Food and Drug Administration to expand the use of the vaccine to teens ages 12 to 15.
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.