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Pfizer’s COVID-19 Booster Could Soon Be OK’d For 16- And 17-Year-Olds

The move will allow millions more teens to get their booster shot.

11-year-old Anahi Morales receives a COVID-19 vaccine at Esperanza Health Centers, 6057 S. Western Ave., on Nov. 4, 2021.
Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
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CHICAGO — Pfizer’s COVID-19 booster shots are just a step away from being approved for 16- and 17-year-olds.

The Food and Drug Administration approved the booster shot for people who are 16 and 17 on Thursday, meaning the boosters just need to be OK’d by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That is expected to happen very soon, according to a New York Times report.

Pfizer’s booster has already been approved for all people 18 and older, so long as it’s been six months since they got their final Pfizer or Moderna shot or two months since their Johnson & Johnson shot.

The approval comes just a day after Pfizer’s leaders said people who have gotten the company’s initial vaccine shots and its booster appeared to have better protection against the fast-spreading Omicron variant.

People 16 and older were already allowed to get vaccinated with Pfizer, but only people 18 and older were approved for a booster shot. That means the latest move will allow millions more teens to get their booster shot.

Locally, officials have urged people to get vaccinated and get their booster shot so they are as protected against Omicron as possible.

COVID-19 cases have already been on the rise in Chicago — and that was just with the Delta strain. Now, the city’s found its first Omicron case, and Dr. Allison Arwady, head of the city’s health department, said she expects to see more in the days to come.

“You do see cases very much on the rise, hospitalizations on the rise, deaths on the rise,” Arwady said during a Thursday livestream. “This is still predominantly the Delta surge. … We continue to really be in this winter surge.”

The Omicron variant is thought to be highly transmissible, but officials have said more research needs to be done.

But more people are getting vaccine shots again, with the city averaging about 15,000 doses administered per day. Arwady said she is “pleased to see” that.

Amid the surge, the “good news” is that while Chicago’s cases have surged — the city is now considered “very high” risk for transmission — the number of people being hospitalized and going to intensive care units has not risen as dramatically.

That’s because the vaccines are protecting people from becoming severely ill and dying, Arwady said.

“Last year, prior to having a vaccine, generally speaking, when we would see cases go into red [for the “very high” risk category], we would also see hospitalizations and even ICU moving toward red,” Arwady said, noting that hasn’t happened this winter since more people are vaccinated. “And because where people are vaccinated they are so much less likely to be hospitalized or to die, we’ve been really pleased to see that separation.”

Still, Arwady said she is concerned about the city’s recent increase in hospitalizations.

“All Chicagoans 18-plus should get a booster now,” she said.


• In Illinois, about 7.5 million people — or 59.05 percent of the state’s 12.7 million people — are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to state data.

• Across the state, 75,514 vaccine doses are being administered per day, based on a seven-day rolling average.

• Illinois and Chicago have administered at least 17,927,416 vaccine doses of the 20,507,215 provided to them.

• City data shows more than 1.6 million Chicagoans — or 62.5 percent of all residents — are fully vaccinated, and 69.1 percent of all Chicagoans have gotten at least one shot.

Everyone 5 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:

• Fifty-four Illinoisans were reported dead from COVID-19 since Wednesday.

• At least 26,766 people have died from COVID-19 in Illinois, and another 3,027 deaths are probably related to the virus, according to the state.

• The state reported 9,301 cases since Wednesday. That brings the total number of confirmed cases in Illinois up to 1,877,213.

• Since Wednesday, 185,826 tests were reported statewide. In all, 40,621,171 tests have been reported in Illinois.

• Illinois’ seven-day case positivity rate was at 4.3 percent. The figure represents the percentage of people testing positive among recent tests. It was at 4.3 percent Wednesday.

• Illinois’ seven-day test positivity rate, which measures the percentage of tests that were positive, was at 5.7 percent. It was at 5.5 percent Wednesday.

• As of Wednesday night, 672 people with COVID-19 were in the ICU and 299 people with COVID-19 were using ventilators in Illinois.

• In Chicago, seven deaths was reported since Wednesday. There have been at least 6,065 deaths from COVID-19 in Chicago. The city is seeing an average of more than four people dying per day, unchanged from last week.

• Chicago has had 1,263 confirmed cases reported since Wednesday. It’s had a total of 352,614 confirmed cases. An average of 948 confirmed cases are being reported per day, up 79 percent from the week prior.

• Testing in Chicago is up 39 percent since a week ago.

• Chicago’s positivity rate was at 4.1 percent, up from 3.3 percent the week prior.

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