Kane County parents will soon face decision to vaccinate their younger children

As Kane County prepares to offer vaccines to residents from ages five to 11 for the first time, public health officials are hoping parents in areas like the east side of Aurora make different choices for their children than they've made for themselves.

Kane County has now vaccinated 52% of its total population. That number is a one percentage point increase from last month. And county health officials say the slow improvement is because some residents, such as most people who live in the 60505 ZIP code in east Aurora, have chosen to shun the shots.

Forty percent of residents in the 60505 ZIP code are fully vaccinated. That total is the lowest percentage in Kane County, according to Illinois Public Health Department data. More than one in 10 residents who live on the east side of Aurora has had COVID-19. The state does not have the number of deaths by ZIP code posted to its COVID-19 data site.

Michael Isaacson, the county's assistant director for community health, told county board members this week the only barrier to improving those numbers is a personal choice. But it's a significant obstacle.

"People know, even within their own homes, where the resistance is," Isaacson said. "We are hitting that wall. And that's because of a choice they've made rather than an access (to the vaccine) issue."

In other words, people are not finding it difficult to get a vaccine shot anymore. They just don't want to get it.

"We are never going to reach 100%," Isaacson said. "But if we got to 90% for the 12 and older population, we are still making progress. It's extremely slow, but every person who gets the vaccine is helping the cause."

Right now, 62% of Kane County residents 12 and older are vaccinated.

County health officials expect full CDC approval to begin vaccinating residents from ages five to 11 by the second week of November. County health officials reminded parents there are clear benefits to getting their children vaccinated both from a health standpoint and in terms of school attendance.

There are currently 10 COVID-19 outbreaks in various Kane County schools. Unvaccinated students who are identified as close contacts to someone with COVID-19 must quarantine for 14 days and cannot participate in sports or extracurricular activities during that time. Vaccinated students can return to school after testing negative for the virus.

Kane County is now entering the same time period that saw a large spike in COVID-19 cases and deaths as last year. The county is already considered to be an area of "high transmission" and is seeing more cases in residents 20 and younger than in its oldest residents. The most recent data from the Kane County Coroner's office shows there were 37 COVID-19 deaths in the county in September. That compares to eight COVID-19 deaths in September 2020.

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