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Booster Shots For Kids 12 And Older Could Get OK’d This Week As Many Return To In-Person Learning

The decision comes as many students return to in-person learning this week — while Chicago and the rest of the country face an enormous surge in COVID-19.

Students show up to school as teachers, parents and members of the Chicago Teachers Union speak outside Park Manor Elementary about parents keeping their CPS students remote until Lightfoot’s CPS team provides testing and safety guarantees, on Jan. 3, 2022.
Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
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CHICAGO — COVID-19 booster shots are a step closer to being approved for kids 12-15 years old.

The Food and Drug Administration authorized a Pfizer booster shot for kids in that age range, who became eligible to get the shots in May. The agency also authorized booster shots for some kids 5-11 who are immunocompromised, and suggesting shortening the period between second and third shots from six to five months.

Now, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and its director just needs to sign off on those changes. That agency is expected to meet this week.

The decision came as school districts across the United States have had to choose between in-person or virtual learning as winter breaks end but the county faces an enormous COVID-19 surge. Some are temporarily moving to virtual learning, hoping to wait out the surge.

Chicago Public Schools opted to return with in-person learning Monday, with officials saying last week the move was needed because kids are safer in school and struggle with virtual learning. CPS CEO Pedro Martinez has said some classrooms and schools could move to virtual learning if they see significant cases and are in areas that are more at risk from the virus, like those where fewer people are vaccinated.

But the Chicago Teachers Union has threatened its members may refuse to work in schools starting Wednesday due to the surge. The union has previously pushed for virtual learning options to protect students, faculty and communities from the virus’s spread.

Children remain at lower risk from the virus. But as cases have skyrocketed in Chicago in recent weeks, the number of children being hospitalized with COVID-19 has risen.

Martinez and other officials have said the best way for parents to protect their kids from COVID-19 is to get them vaccinated.

All children 5 and older are now eligible to get the shots, and they’ve been shown to be highly effective at preventing severe illness and death. Officials have said they also offer protection against the Omicron variant that has driven up cases in recent weeks, though a booster shot is key to being as protect as possible against Omicron.


• In Illinois, about 7.7 million people — or 60.63 percent of the state’s 12.7 million people — are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to state data.

• Across the state, 46,775 vaccine doses are being administered per day, based on a seven-day rolling average.

• Illinois and Chicago have administered at least 19,313,238 vaccine doses of the 21,333,335 provided to them.

• City data shows more than 1.7 million Chicagoans — or 64.4 percent of all residents — are fully vaccinated, and 71.6 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:

• Since Thursday, 177 Illinoisans were reported dead from COVID-19.

• At least 27,998 people have died from COVID-19 in Illinois, and another 3,214 deaths are probably related to the virus, according to the state.

• The state reported 89,195 cases since Thursday. That brings the total number of confirmed cases in Illinois up to 2,238,743.

• Since Thursday, 709,963 tests were reported statewide. In all, 45,179,593 tests have been reported in Illinois.

• Illinois’ seven-day case positivity rate was at 12.8 percent. The figure represents the percentage of people testing positive among recent tests. It was at 10.2 percent Thursday.

• Illinois’ seven-day test positivity rate, which measures the percentage of tests that were positive, was at 17.5 percent. It was at 14.4 percent Thursday.

• As of Sunday night, 1,086 people with COVID-19 were in the ICU and 652 people with COVID-19 were using ventilators in Illinois.

• In Chicago, 28 deaths were reported since Thursday. There have been at least 6,299 deaths from COVID-19 in Chicago. As of Thursday, the city was seeing an average of 10 people dying per day, up 7 percent from a week prior.

• Chicago has had 22,084 confirmed cases reported since Thursday. It’s had a total of 439,418 confirmed cases. As of Thursday, an average of 3,940 confirmed cases were being reported per day, up 42 percent from the week prior.

• Testing in Chicago was down 26 percent as of Thursday.

• Chicago’s positivity rate was at 17.2 percent, up from 8.6 percent the week prior, as of Thursday.

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