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Vaccines For Kids Under 12 Could Be Coming In November, Officials Say

"Just know that it's to help make sure that when we stand behind a vaccine, we can absolutely say that it is safe and effective," Chicago's top doctor said.

A student looks on as public officials tour classrooms at Hawthorne Scholastic Academy while CPS continues its reopening plans in the Lake View neighborhood on March 1, 2021.
Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
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CHICAGO — Young kids could start getting vaccinated against coronavirus in November, the city’s top doctor said Thursday.

The Pfizer vaccine is authorized for kids 12 and older, but parents have been waiting for the FDA to approve vaccines for younger kids. That could start happening late this fall, Dr. Allison Arwady, head of the Chicago Department of Public Health, said during a Thursday livestream.

The vaccine makers extended their trials to enroll more kids and ensure the shots will be safe, Arwady said.

“We have to wait for the science,” Arwady said. “You can’t hurry it up.”

Pfizer will likely be the first to wrap up this part of the trial, with that expected to happen next month, Arwady said. She estimates it’ll then take at least a month for the FDA and other agencies to review the data and decide if they’ll provide emergency use authorization for younger age groups.

“If they decide to grant an [emergency use authorization], I don’t see that coming before November at the earliest,” Arwady said.

Arwady’s estimates echoed statements Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief medical adviser to the president, made to a New York Times reporter on Thursday. Fauci said he expects to see Pfizer submit its data for pediatric vaccines in late September or early October, with Moderna expected to submit its data about a month later.

If the data looks sounds and everything goes as expected, vaccines for kids under 12 would likely become available in November under that timeline.

If the vaccines are approved, it’ll be for various age groups, Arwady said. It’s likely kids 6-11 years old would get approval first, then they’d be approved for kids 2-5 years old and then for all kids 6 months and older, Arwady said.

“The FDA is very conservative around vaccines, especially childhood vaccines,” Arwady said. “We really want to make sure — especially given kids are less likely to have the severe outcomes [from COVID-19] — that these vaccines are absolutely safe, that they’re dosed appropriately, they’re having the right immune response. There’s a lot of things that just make it a little more complicated, and we’re being extra careful.”

Arwady does expect to see the FDA give emergency use authorization to the vaccines — but it’s possibly the federal agency will hold off on doing that because children are less at risk for severe illness and death from COVID-19.

If that happens, the agency would likely take several months to determine if it’ll grant full authorization for the vaccines for kids, which would delay when kids could get the shots to January or February, she said.

Arwady doesn’t expect that to happen, though, she said.

“We’re just waiting for the studies,” Arwady said. “The studies have to get finished. Just know that it’s to help make sure that when we stand behind a vaccine, we can absolutely say that it is safe and effective.”

Fauci said parents should get their kids vaccinated once the shots are approved for younger children.

“You do not want your child to get infected, not only because they may get severe disease, but there may be long-lasting effects,” he told the Times reporter.

Vaccinations:

• In Illinois, about 6.8 million people — or 53.59 percent of the state’s 12.7 million people — have gotten all their COVID-19 vaccine shots, according to state data.

• Across the state, 21,005 vaccine doses are being administered per day, based on a seven-day rolling average.

• Illinois and Chicago have administered at least 14,125,519 vaccine doses of the 16,635,565 provided to them.

• City data shows more than 1.5 million Chicagoans — or 56.2 percent of all residents — are fully vaccinated. About 61.5 percent of all Chicagoans have gotten at least one shot.

COVID-19 vaccinations are free and do not require insurance. Anyone can call the city’s coronavirus hotline at 312-746-4835 to get more information on how and where to get vaccinated in their community.

The numbers:

• Twenty-one Illinoisans were reported dead from COVID-19 since Wednesday.

• At least 24,215 people have died from COVID-19 in Illinois, and another 2,578 deaths are probably related to the virus, according to the state.

• The state reported 4,741 cases since Wednesday. That brings the total number of confirmed cases in Illinois up to 1,559,077.

• Since Wednesday, 89,909 tests were reported statewide. In all, 29,639,736 tests have been reported in Illinois.

• Illinois’ seven-day positivity rate was at 4.7 percent. The figure represents the percentage of people testing positive among recent tests. It was at 4.5 percent Wednesday.

• Illinois’ seven-day test positivity rate, which measures the percentage of tests that were positive, was at 5.1 percent. It was at 5.1 percent Wednesday.

• As of Wednesday night, 552 people with COVID-19 were in the ICU and 305 people with COVID-19 were using ventilators in Illinois.

• In Chicago, two deaths were reported since Wednesday. There have been at least 5,681 deaths from COVID-19 in Chicago. The city is seeing an average of more than three deaths per day, a 13 percent increase from the week prior.

• Chicago has had 567 confirmed cases reported since Tuesday. It’s had a total of 308,505 confirmed cases. An average of 455 confirmed cases are being reported per day, an 11 percent decrease from the week prior.

• At the same time, testing has increased 4 percent since a week ago.

• Chicago’s positivity rate was at 3.8 percent, down from 4.3 percent the week prior.

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