As FDA panel backs Pfizer shot for kids 5-11, when can yours get one? Here are local plans so far
With COVID-19 vaccines for children ages 5 to 11 expected to be available in early November, "how can I get one for my kid?" is a question myriad parents are asking.
The answer is evolving, with many health care providers waiting on an emergency use authorization for Pfizer/BioNTech's two-dose COVID-19 vaccine. A U.S. Food and Drug Administration advisory committee on Tuesday found that the benefits of the shot outweighed the risks for children ages 5 to 11 and voted 17-0 to recommend the vaccine for that cohort. Now the full FDA plus the U.S. Centers for Disease Control must weigh in with final approvals, which are expected next week.
Here's a look at the latest information on where and how COVID-19 shots will be provided.
Advocate-Aurora Health Care officials said Monday that as soon as an emergency use authorization is official, "our pediatricians' offices are ready to schedule and get those kids vaccinated." Appointments can also be made by downloading the organization's LiveWell app.
Duly Health and Care, formerly DuPage Medical Group, intends to initially give pediatric shots at two COVID-19 clinics, in Lisle and Tinley Park, once federal regulators sign off.
"We have been anxiously anticipating this important milestone," Duly Chief Medical Officer Donald Hoscheit said.
At Edward-Elmhurst Health, "we have placed an initial order for the pediatric-specific COVID-19 vaccine and are taking the necessary steps to be able to vaccinate the pediatric population at the Edward-Elmhurst Health Center" in Downers Grove, spokesman Keith Hartenberger said.
At a briefing Monday, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said 500,000 initial doses will be available with more coming from the federal government to serve 1.1 million eligible children.
The Illinois Department of Public Health currently is coordinating with school districts to set up clinics.
At Elgin Area School District U-46, "we have not finalized plans, but our hope is to offer vaccination sites within our district when the vaccine is approved for students," spokeswoman Karla Jiménez said.
Naperville Unit District 203 is also planning local clinics for students.
"We are engaging in dialogue with Osco pharmacy to provide this for our students and community when available," said Patrick W. Nolten, 203's assistant superintendent for assessment and accountability.
IDPH Director Ngozi Ezike anticipated a decision on vaccines could come Nov. 2 or 3, meaning pharmacies might be able to offer shots the weekend of Nov. 6 and 7. Larger events such as clinics at schools or park districts might begin the week of Nov. 7, she suggested.
With younger children, it's helpful to offer a welcoming environment to reassure patients getting shots, experts said.
"Some people will only feel comfortable getting it done at their pediatrician's or family physician's office," Ezike said. "Some people have been chomping at the bit and will go to the pharmacy on Day 1. Some people will be comfortable having that event at school. We're really trying to create all these different options for different parents who are at different stages of feeling comfortable with the idea."
The Daily Herald also reached out to Amita Health officials who said plans to distribute COVID-19 shots "are still underway and evolving," and to Northwestern Medicine, which said it was waiting on the federal authorization.
Meanwhile, at least one private pediatric practice, located in Arlington Heights and Buffalo Grove, has scheduled COVID-19 shots starting Nov. 9.