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Cook County Health to begin vaccinating kids 5 through 11 starting Friday

Patients can walk in to any Cook County Health site for a shot for a child, or make an appointment at (833) 308-1988.

Eun Sem Kil, left, comforts her son Enzo Garcia, 6, center, while Marco Reyes of Esperanza Health Centers applies a bandage to Enzo’s arm after he received a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine Wednesday.
Eun Sem Kil, left, comforts her son Enzo Garcia, 6, while Marco Reyes of Esperanza Health Centers applies a bandage to Enzo’s arm after he received a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine Wednesday.
Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times file

Cook County Health will begin vaccinating children as young as 5 against COVID-19 beginning Friday.

The county health care system announced the expanded availability Thursday, following federal approval this week of the Pfizer vaccine for kids aged 5 to 11.

Patients can walk into any Cook County Health site for a shot for a child or make an appointment at (833) 308-1988. Kids’ appointments will be available online at vaccine.cookcountyil.gov next week, officials said.

A parent or legal guardian must accompany any potential vaccine recipient younger than 18.

Illinois’ first doses for young kids were administered Wednesday. The vaccine for young kids works the same way as those that have been administered to more than 7.8 million Illinois residents over the past year, only in two smaller doses taken three weeks apart.

In clinical trials, kids showed fewer side effects to the Pfizer vaccine compared to adults, while it was 90% effective in preventing symptomatic infection.

Major pharmacies are already accepting appointments for kids. Families are encouraged to reach out to their pediatrician or family care provider for shots.

The Chicago Department of Public Health is hosting family vaccination clinics Saturday at Richard J. Daley College, and Sunday at Wilbur Wright College. Vaccine locations for kids and adults can also be found at chi.gov/covidvax.

About 77% of Illinoisans 12 or older have gotten at least one shot, with nearly 71% fully vaccinated.

The city has seen “a little bit of an uptick” in coronavirus cases this week, with a 12% increase in total cases compared to last week, city Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said during an online Q&A.

The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 4,267 new cases statewide, the most in a single day in nearly two months, since the height of the Delta variant surge.

As colder weather sends more people indoors, Arwady stopped short of saying she expects to see a seasonal surge in cases but said “we would be very lucky to not see an increase in COVID.”

“But I’m not worried about the major, major impact like we were seeing last year, simply because we have a lot of people vaccinated,” she said.