Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Monday outlined the state’s plan for vaccinating children ages 5 to 11 against COVID-19, urging parents to talk to their pediatricians about getting one of Illinois’ nearly 480,000 doses earmarked for kids.
“In just a few days’ time, millions of parents all across the United States should be able to breathe a sigh of relief that they’ve been holding in for over 18 months now,” Pritzker said at a news conference. “I will do everything in my power to continue to follow the science and keep our kids safe.”
As soon as the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sign off on the “kid-sized doses,” they’ll be shipped out to pharmacies and pediatricians across Illinois, Pritzker said.
Illinois will receive a “robust supply right from the start,” Pritzker said. The state is expected to receive an initial allotment around 306,000 doses, with an additional 73,000 doses for the City of Chicago. Another roughly 100,000 doses will head to the federal government’s pharmacy partners in Illinois.
The Illinois Department of Public Health is working with pediatricians and other health care providers, including those in rural areas and federally qualified health centers, to provide vaccines.
For parents who are hesitant or who still have questions, Pritzker urged them to talk to their pediatrician or another expert.
The governor ticked off polio, diphtheria, tetanus, measles and pertussis as “a few of the once deadly diseases that we’ve functionally eradicated with vaccines.”
“As parents, there’s so much that we want for our children, but nothing more important for them than for them to be healthy. Life in a pandemic, to say the least, has truly driven that home.”
Last week, the governor urged skilled nursing facilities to make booster shots available to all residents and staff before Thanksgiving and opened the door to easing some COVID mitigations, such as the mask mandate, “as we approach the holidays,” he said.
During his Monday news conference, Pritzker said his administration had come to an agreement with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees over employees the union represents within the Illinois Department of Human Services and the state’s department of veterans’ affairs on the governor’s vaccine mandate.
The more than 7,800 employees represented by that union will have to get their first shot by Oct. 26 and second shot by Nov. 30.
Though Pritzker made progress on getting workers at the state’s veterans affairs facilities vaccinated, talks stalled with AFSCME on the vaccine mandate for employees within the state’s departments of corrections and juvenile justice. The state and the union will undergo interest arbitration to try to come to a deal on the roughly 10,300 security employees within those departments.
For another 1,900 non-security employees within those two departments, the state will require those employees to get their first shot by Oct. 26 and their second shot by Nov. 30 in accordance with state law.
Pritzker’s comments come a day before an FDA panel is expected to weigh whether or not to approve a Pfizer vaccine dose for children ages 5 to 11. An immunization panel within the CDC will meet in early November to discuss the same topic.
During an appearance on on ABC’s “This Week,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser, predicted vaccines could be available to children ages 5-11 starting in early November.