It's time: Where to get kids' COVID-19 vaccinations in the suburbs
Health officials and medical professionals are anticipating a large wave of COVID-19 vaccinations in the coming days after the authorization that allows children between the ages of 5 and 11 to get immunized.
While a few locations have begun the vaccination process for kids that young, most providers are taking appointments for younger children to get the shot beginning this weekend or early next week.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention authorized use of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for that new age group late Tuesday, 11 months after the initial emergency use authorization of the vaccine for people age 16 and up.
"Cook County Health will have walk-in availability for current patients ages 5 to11 to receive the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine beginning on Friday," said Dr. Mope Akintorin, chair of pediatrics for Cook County Health.
In addition, "patients and members of the community will be able to make appointments for vaccinations for children ages 5 to 11 beginning early next week."
Suburban Cook County residents can book appointments through the agency's vaccination portal, vaccine.cookcountyil.gov, or by calling (833) 308-1988 Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.
Despite the newly eligible children and the necessity of booster shots for most adults, public health agencies are not deploying mass vaccination sites as they did during the initial round of vaccinations in the spring. And some mass vaccination sites are now being shuttered, like DuPage County's fairgrounds site.
"The decision to close the community vaccination clinic was made because we recognize this would not be the best care setting to meet the unique needs of the 5-to 11-year-old population," said DuPage County Health Department Director Karen Ayala.
DuPage County's health department is taking appointments at its website dupagehealth.org and will begin offering the vaccine to younger children the week of Nov. 15.
In Kane County, residents should visit the website kanevax.org to schedule an appointment.
Local and state health officials say parents should check with their pediatricians first to see if appointments are available through their offices, or check the nationwide appointment locator, vaccines.gov.
National pharmacy chains like CVS and Walgreens have begun taking appointments for children as well. Visit cvs.com/immunizations/covid-19-vaccine/kids for appointment availability at CVS. Visit walgreens.com for appointments that will be available starting Saturday at many Walgreens locations.
Officials said children must be accompanied by a parent or guardian for the inoculations, and the adults must attest to the child's eligibility.
Immunization approval for younger children comes as the state has seen cases and hospitalizations level off.
Illinois Department of Public Health officials reported there were 1,278 COVID-19 patients being treated in hospitals statewide. That's up slightly, but right around what the state has averaged for the past two weeks.
Of those hospitalized, 282 are in intensive care.
IDPH officials also reported 40 more COVID-19 deaths, with another 1,746 new cases diagnosed as well.
That brings the state's death toll from the virus to 25,898, while 1,705,777 infections have been reported since the outbreak began.
The state's seven-day case positivity rate is at 2.0%, where it's been for three straight days now. Case positivity is the percentage of new cases derived from a batch of tests, and a seven-day average is used to account for any anomalies in the daily reporting of those figures.
Meanwhile, IDPH officials also reported another 55,396 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered, bringing the total number of doses administered statewide to 15,821,504 since they became available in December.
IDPH is reporting 57.3% of the state's 12.7 million residents are fully vaccinated.