City-operated vaccination sites on Thursday will begin offering Pfizer vaccinations to kids between the ages of 12 and 15.
The announcement Tuesday came a day after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted emergency use authorization for that age group. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is expected to grant full approval on Wednesday.
“Like adults, all youth age 12 and older are encouraged to get the vaccine,” Chicago’s chief health official Dr. Allison Arwady said in a statement.
“Current data show that the vaccine is safe and effective in children, and it not only protects our kids, but also their families and our communities,” Arwady said.
The statement said vaccine appointments for Thursday and beyond can be booked through the city’s call center at 312-746-4835 or through www.zocdoc.com/vaccine.
Initial issues that prevented appointments from being made on the website or over the phone Tuesday morning had been cleared up by the afternoon.
“Make that appointment if you can. It helps make sure you won’t have to wait and we’ll have enough vaccine on hand,” Arwady said.
The city statement also said walk-ins will be accepted at all city-run sites that offer the Pfizer vaccine. Those include the United Center, Chicago State University, Wrigley Field, Apostolic Faith Church, Richard J. Daley College, Wilbur Wright College and Loretto Hospital.
A parent or guardian must accompany any minor under age 18, and unvaccinated parents and guardians will be encouraged to receive a vaccine as well.
A Walgreens spokesman said the pharmacy chain expects the online booking process for appointments will be made available for 12-15 year-olds starting on Wednesday.
The pharmacy plans to offer shots to walk-ins, too. But because Walgreens doesn’t make public the specific vaccines available at each of its locations, some stores with only non-Pfizer vaccines in stock will not be able to give shots to 12-15 year olds.
Canada first to approve use for younger children
The Pfizer vaccine has been used in multiple countries for teens as young as 16, and Canada recently became the first to expand use to those 12 and up. Parents, school administrators and public health officials elsewhere have eagerly awaited approval for the shot to be made available to more kids.
“This is a watershed moment in our ability to fight back the COVID-19 pandemic,” Dr. Bill Gruber, a Pfizer senior vice president who’s also a pediatrician, said.
Earlier this week, the Food and Drug Administration declared that the Pfizer vaccine is safe and offers strong protection for younger teens based on testing of more than 2,000 U.S. volunteers ages 12 to 15.
The study found no cases of COVID-19 among fully vaccinated adolescents compared to 18 among kids given dummy shots. More intriguing, researchers found the kids developed higher levels of virus-fighting antibodies than earlier studies measured in young adults.
The younger teens received the same vaccine dosage as adults and had the same side effects, mostly sore arms and flu-like fever, chills or aches that signal a revved-up immune system, especially after the second dose.
Pfizer’s testing in adolescents “met our rigorous standards,” FDA vaccine chief Dr. Peter Marks said. “Having a vaccine authorized for a younger population is a critical step in continuing to lessen the immense public health burden caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.”