CHICAGO — U.S. health officials on Tuesday gave final clearance to Pfizer’s kid-size COVID-19 shot, a significant expansion of the nation’s vaccination campaign.
CDC Director Rochelle Walensky signed off on more than 28 million children, age 5-11 years of age, receiving the dose.
Upon approval, many parents are wondering where and when they can make an appointment. Chicago-area health departments and large pharmacies like Walgreens and CVS have gone on record saying they plan to administer the vaccine to kids, but a start date is unknown.
‘It is our ongoing responsibility to make sure as many people as possible are vaccinated and protected from COVID 19,” Walensky said.
Ben Kagan, the founder of Chicago Vaccine Angels on Facebook, applauded the move. WGN first told viewers about teenage ‘Vaccine Hunter’ earlier this year, when shot demand was extremely high and supply extremely low. Kagan has since helped more than 800 people find vaccine appointments.
“The folks I’ve spoken with have been really excited and their kids have been excited too,” Kagan said, “Sitting in a school building every day and feeling unsafe like you can catch coronavirus is a scary feeling.”
Kagan’s group as a whole has connected more than 7,000 people with vaccinations. On Tuesday, he spent the day calling around to find out locations where youngsters could get vaccinated.
“A lot of facilities in Illinois have not yet received those doses from Pfizer or the government, and they’re waiting on shipments to come a lot through this Friday and this Monday,” Kagan said.
Kagan says Lurie and Comer Children’s Hospitals told him they plan to open appointments to existing patients online and by phone on Wednesday. In addition, Roseland Community Hospital plans to start vaccinating Wednesday morning and plans on accepting walk-ins.
The smaller 10-microgram Pfizer dose is one-third of the adult dose and comes with a smaller needle.
The CDC stressed the importance of vaccinating school-aged children after a surge in Delta variant cases this summer sharply increased hospitalizations among kids.
“[Kids] have all been waiting for this for the longest time,” Kagan said. “We’ve all been waiting throughout this pandemic to get vaccinated and get it over with. This is one more step in ending the pandemic and getting our country and city and state back to normal.”