Pritzker says 'robust supply' of 500,000 'kid-sized' doses of COVID-19 vaccine are coming
An initial supply of about 500,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine will be available for Illinois children ages 5 to 11 assuming federal regulators approve shots in the coming days, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Monday.
Once that occurs, "kid-sized doses and kid-sized needles will be shipped out to pharmacies, to pediatricians and to other all providers across Illinois," Pritzker said. "We believe that early to mid-next week we will have those vaccines in hand."
The state is providing a vaccine distribution program for practitioners and he urged parents to "call your pediatrician now to make sure that they have enrolled and have ordered doses."
About 1.1 million kids will become eligible for vaccinations. Along with private practices, more than 700 retail pharmacies, county health departments, and public health clinics will offer inoculations, officials said.
The first rollout of vaccines to the general public in early 2021 was plagued by supply shortages and a bottleneck of people seeking jabs.
"Unlike with the federal government's vaccine deliveries last December, Illinois will receive a robust supply right from the start," Pritzker said, adding some children should be able to be fully vaccinated before the holidays.
Pfizer/BioNTech's two-dose vaccine is likely to be the first approved and requires three weeks between shots, then two more weeks for recipients to reach peak immunity.
That doesn't mean parents can start scheduling COVID-19 shots right away, however. A U.S. Food and Drug Administration panel is expected to make a recommendation on an emergency use authorization Tuesday, then FDA officials will weigh in, followed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.
At Advocate-Aurora Health, "pediatricians will have COVID-19 vaccines available in their offices and are ready to administer them once approved for children 5 to 11. We are administering them already for those 12 and up," said spokeswoman Evonne Woloshyn.
Once emergency use is granted, "our pediatricians' offices are ready to schedule and get those kids vaccinated. Parents can call their child's pediatrician's office to make the appointment or download our LiveWell app and book easily through the app itself," Advocate's Bridget Kozlowski added.
Walgreens spokesman Fraser Engerman said the company is looking forward to receiving additional information from the FDA, CDC and its advisory panels "regarding official guidance as well as distribution plans for administering COVID-19 vaccines to children ages 5 to 11. Our pharmacy team members have extensive experience vaccinating children and adolescents."
Officials encouraged parents with questions about the vaccine to get information from reputable websites, such as the American Academy of Pediatrics at aap.org.
The state is reaching out to about 756 elementary school districts offering to conduct clinics at local schools.
Illinois Department of Public Health Director Ngozi Ezike, a pediatrician, said her eligible children have been vaccinated.
"As a mom, I had zero doubt," she said. "It is critically important that we get as many children vaccinated as quickly as possible, in order to provide them with the ultimate degree of protection."