By Josh Bootsma
LANSING, Ill. (May 12, 2021) – Following the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunizations Practices’ decision Wednesday to recommend the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for children ages 12 through 15, state health departments in both Illinois and Indiana announced that they would be expanding eligibility to residents in that age bracket. The announcements come after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) recent expansion of the emergency use authorization for individuals ages 12–15.
Prior to the decision, the Pfizer shot was only offered to residents ages 16 and older. The vaccine is administered in two doses, three weeks apart. Pfizer’s vaccine remains the only COVID-19 vaccine available to residents younger than 18 years old.
Parent or guardian requirements for vaccine
In Cook County, a parent or guardian must accompany a minor to their vaccination appointment. In Indiana, a written authorization that the child may receive a vaccination will suffice if a parent or guardian is not able to attend the appointment. Parents or guardians are advised to bring ID when bringing their child for vaccination, though those without ID will not be turned away.
Walk-in appointments are available in both states at most vaccination sites.
Vaccine 100% effective
A press release from Cook County Public Health on Wednesday said, “We are now seeing the highest rates of COVID-19 infections in younger people. If we want children to return to school, sports, and social activities as safely as possible, they should be vaccinated. It is our best chance at returning to in-person learning and normal activities.”
An Illinois Department of Public Health press release said, “In clinical trials, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was found to be 100% effective in preventing COVID-19 among participants ages 12 through 15 years. The side effects in adolescents were similar with those reported in clinical trial participants 16 years of age and older and included pain at the injection site, tiredness, headache, chills, muscle and joint pain, and fever.”
“The expanded use of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine brings us one step closer to getting back to our daily lives and ending this pandemic,” said Illinois Governor JB Pritzker. “Our state-supported mass vaccination locations, along with local health departments and other providers, are ready to vaccinate young people immediately, providing kids and families with a sense of relief after a difficult year.”
- TF South vaccination site open to walk-ins through June 5 (May 9, 2021)
- Illinois to enter Bridge Phase of COVID reopening plan on May 14 (May 6, 2021)
- South Suburban College vaccination site now open for walk-ins (April 29, 2021)