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City unveils plans to give COVID-19 vaccine to younger children

Chicago Public Schools is planning a citywide marketing campaign to promote the vaccine for younger children.

Dr. Allison Arwady, Chicago’s public health commissioner, got praise for her handling of the city’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady announced plans Tuesday to distribute the COVID-19 vaccine to children ages 5 to 11..
Pat Nabong/Sun-Times file

The city’s top public health official on Tuesday promised that there will be no shortage of the COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available to children ages 5 to 11 — possibly by early November.

“This is not going to be ‘The Hunger Games,’” Dr. Allison Arwady said, referring to the popular fantasy survival book series.

Arwady said she doesn’t expect a repeat of people having to scramble to find appointments as was the case when the vaccine first became available for adults earlier this year.

About 100,000 pediatric doses of the vaccine are expected to arrive in the city during the first week of its availability, Arwady said, speaking to reporters at City Hall. There are about 210,000 children in the 5 to 11 age range living in the city, she said.

“I want to reassure you, there will be vaccine available for your child,” Arwady said.

Although stand-alone pharmacies, grocery stores and clinics are expected to receive the vaccine, Arwady urged parents and guardians to first check with their child’s pediatrician.

“We would love them to go with their regular provider — they can help get caught up on other vaccines, answer questions,” she said.

The vaccine will only be distributed after it has received approval first from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. At first, only the Pfizer vaccine is expected to be available for children.

“Just like adults, the vaccine will remain free. No insurance, no identification, no doctor’s order required,” she said.

And like adults, children will require two doses — although each dose is expected to be about one-third of the adult dose and given with a smaller needle, Arwady said.

Vaccinations will also be available at school-based health centers and at mobile vaccination clinics.

Chicago Public Schools plans to operate four regional vaccination clinics at Chicago Vocational, Roosevelt, Clark and Richards high schools. CPS also will make shots available through mobile vaccination units and school-based health centers. Visit cps.edu/COVID for details.

The district is planning a citywide marketing campaign to promote the vaccine for younger children.

“We’re going to do a big marketing education campaign,” said CPS CEO Pedro Martinez, appearing with Arwady Tuesday. “We want to be very intentional because what families need is just good information, especially from medical experts.”