As COVID-19 cases rise in kids, those 5 to 11 could get shots by early November, expert says

Kids ages 5 to 11 could get shots by early November, expert says

This story has been updated to correct the seven-day case positivity rate.

COVID-19 cases in Illinois teenagers and children reached 286,365 Thursday, or about 17.8% of total infections, a spike compared to a year ago in September 2020 when that metric was 12%, state data showed.

The shift comes as the highly contagious delta variant of COVID-19 is proliferating among unvaccinated people, including children ages 11 and younger who aren't eligible yet for vaccines.

But relief in the form of vaccines for kids ages 5 to 11 could come as soon as early November, one expert forecasts.

After promising results from clinical trials, Pfizer/BioNTech officials said Monday they intend to ask the federal government for emergency use authorization for that cohort "with urgency."

Another Pfizer submission for universal COVID-19 boosters was shot down by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently, although the agency did approve boosters for people 65 and older.

That rejection "is somewhat reassuring to the public that these are not rubber-stamp decisions, that the people that are truly charged with evaluating the science and the data are able to think independently," said pediatrician Michael Bauer, medical director at Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital.

He anticipates Pfizer will seek authorization for the 5- to 11-year-old group by the end of September. Then, "the FDA has to pore over the thousands and thousands of pages of data and really scrub it and search long and hard to make sure that they don't see any safety signals and that the studies were done properly and no red flags were raised," he said.

More research and trials were necessary to determine an appropriate vaccine amount for children, which has been set at one-third of the adult dose, Bauer said.

In the Pfizer study, 1,500 children received an actual vaccine, not a placebo. They reported side effects similar to what 16- to 25-year-olds experienced, such as fever, headaches or body aches with the first dose and less with the second dose.

"In terms of rare complications, there were no cases of myocarditis or any other severe side effects," Bauer said.

Meanwhile, trials showed the vaccine was very effective against COVID-19, he added. That could mean "hopefully with cautious optimism" the 5-through-11 contingent could receive COVID-19 shots from their doctors or at pharmacies by early November.

Also Thursday, new cases of COVID-19 totaled 3,505 in Illinois, with 44 more deaths, the state Department of Public Health reported.

On Wednesday, 17,551 more COVID-19 shots were administered. The seven-day average is 18,920.

The federal government has delivered 17,156,715 doses of vaccine to Illinois since distribution began in mid-December, and 14,395,359 shots have been administered.

So far, 6,973,956 people have been fully vaccinated, or 54.7% of Illinois' 12.7 million population. Vaccines manufactured by Pfizer and Moderna require two doses several weeks apart.

Illinois hospitals were treating 2,008 COVID-19 patients Wednesday night.

The state's positivity rate for COVID-19 cases is 3.0% based on a seven-day average.

Total cases statewide stand at 1,608,825, and 24,743 Illinoisans have died since the pandemic began.

Labs processed 129,871 virus tests in the last 24 hours.

Biden coming back to Illinois, plans to encourage COVID-19 shots

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