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Can Kids Visit Santa This Year? Get Vaccinated Soon For A Safe Holiday Season, Top Doc Says

There is still time for people to get fully vaccinated before Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas and Kwanzaa, Dr. Allison Arwady said.

Take photos with Santa in North Center on small business Saturday.
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CHICAGO — People need to get their COVID-19 vaccinations in soon if they want to be fully protected for the holidays, Chicago’s top doctor said Tuesday.

The good news: Kids 5 and older could start getting vaccinated as soon as Thursday, said Dr. Allison Arwady, head of the Chicago Department of Public Health. She said vaccine supplies are already on their way to Chicago, and doses are coming soon after. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is expected to approve the Pfizer vaccine for those kids this week.

That means kids 5 and older could get their shots in time to visit Santa before Christmas — though they’ll have to get the first Pfizer shot by Nov. 13 to be fully vaccinated in time for Dec. 25.

Vaccines still haven’t been OK’d for younger kids.

“I think it’s gonna be lovely for kids to be able to do some of those activities that were just really, really hard to do last year,” Arwady said.

Arwady, answering questions from Chicagoans during a Tuesday morning livestream, said she expects people portraying Santa are being “extra careful” and getting tested regularly, especially if they work in businesses. People who visit a Santa indoors should have masks, she said.

And there is still time for people to get fully vaccinated before other holidays, like Thanksgiving, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa.

The health commissioner said she is excited for people to get their shots and safely celebrate the upcoming holidays.

“Please plan ahead,” Arwady said. “Obviously, we are looking forward to being able to gather in ways it was really hard to do last year. But those dates can sneak up on you, so please get vaccinated.”

Here’s a holiday vaccination schedule:

  • Thanksgiving (Nov. 25): It’s too late to get a double-dose vaccine, but you can get the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine by Nov. 11 to be protected in time for the holiday.
  • Hanukkah (Nov. 28-Dec. 6): You can get the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine by Nov. 14 to be fully protected by the first day of Hanukkah.
  • Christmas (Dec. 25): If you want the two-shot Moderna vaccine, you must get your first shot by Nov. 13. If you want Pfizer, you must get the first shot by Nov. 20. You have until Dec. 11 if you want the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
  • Kwanzaa (Dec. 26-Jan. 1): People celebrating Kwanzaa have until Nov. 14 to get their first shot of the two-dose Moderna vaccine or Nov. 21 for the first shot of the Pfizer vaccine.Participants who want the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine have until Dec. 12 to get it.


• In Illinois, about 7.2 million people — or 57.28 percent of the state’s 12.7 million people — are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to state data.

• Across the state, 60,405 vaccine doses are being administered per day, based on a seven-day rolling average.

• Illinois and Chicago have administered at least 15,766,108 vaccine doses of the 18,880,165 provided to them.

• City data shows more than 1.6 million Chicagoans — or 59.9 percent of all residents — are fully vaccinated, and 64.9 percent of all Chicagoans have gotten at least one shot.

Everyone 12 and older is eligible to get vaccinated in Chicago.

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-four Illinoisans were reported dead from COVID-19 since Monday.

• At least 25,858 people have died from COVID-19 in Illinois, and another 2,861 deaths are probably related to the virus, according to the state.

• The state reported 2,382 cases since Monday. That brings the total number of confirmed cases in Illinois up to 1,704,031.

• Since Monday, 81,635 tests were reported statewide. In all, 35,681,902 tests have been reported in Illinois.

• Illinois’ seven-day case positivity rate was at 2 percent. The figure represents the percentage of people testing positive among recent tests. It was at 2 percent Monday.

• Illinois’ seven-day test positivity rate, which measures the percentage of tests that were positive, was at 2.3 percent. It was at 2.3 percent Monday.

• As of Monday night, 294 people with COVID-19 were in the ICU and 153 people with COVID-19 were using ventilators in Illinois.

• In Chicago, 11 deaths were reported since Monday. There have been at least 5,913 deaths from COVID-19 in Chicago. The city is seeing an average of more than three deaths per day, unchanged from a week ago.

• Chicago has had 346 confirmed cases reported since Monday. It’s had a total of 328,595 confirmed cases. An average of 312 confirmed cases are being reported per day, up 8 percent from the week prior.

• Testing in Chicago is down 5 percent since a week ago.

• Chicago’s positivity rate was at 1.7 percent, up from 1.6 percent the week prior.

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