At a gym turned mass vaccination site on Chicago’s Southwest Side, nine-year-old Kate Johns proudly fixed a COVID-19 vaccination sticker on her bedazzled T-shirt. She was excited to get back to school and show it off.
“The pinch was not as bad as the flu shot,” the chatty fourth grader said Wednesday morning at an Esperanza Health Centers vaccination center.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended the Pfizer BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for 5- to 11-year-olds Tuesday evening. Kate’s mom Liz Johns booked her an appointment for the very next morning with Esperanza Health Centers. Johns said it’s important to keep elderly members of the family safe and to minimize disruptions to school.
“Once she’s had both shots, if there’s a kid in her class who gets it, she actually won’t have to stay at home and do the virtual learning,” Johns said.
The Johns family was among the first to get vaccinated on the first day the shots were available to the youngest age group. Some 28 million children nationally are now eligible, 1.1 million in Illinois and 210,500 in Chicago. As part of a campaign to get as many students vaccinated as possible, Chicago Public Schools on Thursday announced it was cancelling school on Friday, Nov. 12 so students can get vaccinated. It is encouraging parents to use the day to take their child to a pediatrician or another site offering the vaccination.
Dr. Larry Kociolek with Lurie Children’s Hospital said expanding vaccine eligibility is another step to getting school back to normal. Even though children are much less likely to be hospitalized or die from the disease, he is urging kids to get the shot to greatly reduce the risk of their child getting COVID-19 and potentially suffering life-altering complications.
“When we have a very safe and a very effective tool to prevent those complications, that really should be appreciated, and families should be very careful about underestimating the likelihood and the impact of these conditions.”
A survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation in September shows that only 34% of parents plan to get their 5- to 11-year-olds vaccinated “right away,” while 24% said they definitely will not get their children vaccinated.
The dose for 5-11 year olds is a third of the adult dose and it comes in two shots. Clinical trials show the younger age group experienced fewer side effects than young adults who got the higher dose. Fewer than 50% of kids had any side effects at all, and there were no serious ones reported. The most common were fatigue and headache. Fewer than 10% of patients experienced fever and chills.
As for younger children, Kociolek says clinical trials for the children aged 4 and under are ongoing, but a vaccine could be available as soon as late winter to early spring.
Where kids can get vaccinated
Doctors and public health officials are encouraging parents to take their young children to their pediatrician’s office to get the shot. But pharmacies will also be getting supply and there are also some large clinics events available:
- Find a location at Vaccines.gov
- Chicago Department of Public Health Uptown Immunization Clinic: Register online: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday Nov. 12
- CDPH Greater Lawn Immunization Clinic: Register online: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday Nov. 12.Â
- CDPH CareVan Nixon Elementary School: Register online: 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Friday, Nov. 12
- Family Vaccine Clinic, Arturo Velasquez Institute: Register online or at 773-254-14009 a.m. to 12 p.m. Friday Nov. 12
- Little Black Pearl Pop-up, 1060 E. 47th St: Register online or walk-in: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday Nov. 12
- Family Vaccine Clinic, Harmony Community Church: Register online: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday, Nov. 12.
- Chicago Teachers Union Center, 1901 W. Carroll Ave.: Registration requested or walk-in: 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. Friday, Nov. 12
- National Teachers Academy, 55 W. Cermak: Walk-in, first-come, first-served: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday Nov. 12.
- Compassion Baptist Church, 2650 E. 95th Street: Walk-ins: 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Friday Nov. 12
- Esperanza Health Centers, 6057 S. Western: By appointment or walk-in: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.
- Swedish Covenant Hospital, 2751 W. Winona St: By walk-in or appointment online or by calling 773-907-7700: 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays to Fridays.
- Other NorthShore vaccination locations.
- Instavaxx, 2674 N Halsted St: By appointment: Saturdays 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Sundays 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Mondays - Fridays, 12 p.m. to 8 p.m.
- Lurie Children’s Hospital, 225 E. Chicago Ave.: By appointment only: 1-7 p.m. Fridays, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays
- Comer Children’s Hospital, 5721 S. Maryland Ave.: By appointment only: 5-7:45 p.m. Tuesdays, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sundays, noon to 4 p.m. Nov. 24. Call 773-834-8221 to schedule
- 43rd Ward community vaccination clinic: By appointment only: 330 W. Webster: 1-7 p.m. Nov. 13, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Nov. 14
- Southland College Prep Charter High School, Richton Park: By appointment or walk-in: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays beginning Nov. 13
- The City of Chicago web site has a calendar of vaccine events
The following pharmacies will be getting vaccine supplies for 5- to 11-year-olds, according to the city of Chicago.
Walgreens: Register online, call your local Walgreens or 1-800-925-4733
CVS: Register online, call your local CVS or 1-800-679-9691
Mariano’s: Register online
Walmart: Call 833-886-0023, Option 1
Chicago Public School plans to start offering the vaccine for young children on Nov. 10. CPS has cancelled class on Nov. 12 to give families a day to get vaccinated. City employees will get two hours off work. Vaccines will be available at Several mobile clinic and four regional clinics:
- Michelle Clark Magnet High School, 5101 W Harrison St
- Chicago Vocational High School, 2100 E 87th St
- Theodore Roosevelt High School, 3436 W Wilson Ave
- Richards Career Academy High School, 5009 South Laflin Street
CPS is also offering vaccines on Friday Nov. 12 at 14 school-based clinics. Find the hours and locations here.
Cook County Health is offering vaccines for children five and older starting Friday, Nov. 5 at all its Chicago and suburban locations. Vaccines are available via walk-in or by appointment or by calling 833-308-1988.
City Colleges of Chicago will offer family vaccination clinics every weekend from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. starting Nov 13. Registration is required
Nov. 13 – Richard J. Daley College, 7500 S Pulaski Rd.
Nov. 14 – Wilbur Wright College, 4300 N Narragansett Ave
Nov. 20 – Kennedy-King College, 6301 S Halsted St.
Nov. 21 – Olive-Harvey College, 10001 S Woodlawn Ave.
Dec. 4 – Richard J. Daley College, 7500 S Pulaski Rd.
Dec. 5 – Wilbur Wright College, 4300 N Narragansett Ave.
Dec. 11 – Kennedy-King College, 6301 S Halsted St.
Dec. 12 – Olive-Harvey College, 10001 S Woodlawn Ave.
Dec. 18 – Truman College, 1145 W Wilson Ave.
Dec. 19 – Malcolm X College, 1900 W Jackson Blvd.
Jan. 8 – Truman College, 1145 W Wilson Ave.
Jan. 9 – Malcolm X College, 1900 W Jackson Blvd.
The following clinics allow walk-ins. Check out their websites for exact times and locations:
Alivio Medical Center
Asian Human Services Family Health Center
Beloved Community Family Wellness Center
Chicago Family Health Center
Christian Community Health Center
Erie Family Health Center
Esperanza Health Centers
Heartland Health Centers
Lawndale Christian Health Center
Mile Square Health Center (UIC)
Near North Health Services Corporation
PCC Wellness Center
TCA Health Inc.
Starting November 15, Chicago Department of Public Health’s in-home vaccination program will also offer pediatric vaccination for all children ages 5 to 11. Make an at-home appointment or by calling (312) 746-4835.