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CPS to start planning vaccinations for older students, officials say

While CPS is currently giving shots to all staff, the district’s medical chief said Wednesday the district is exploring how it can expand vaccinations to older high school students.

CPS is exploring giving vaccines to students.
CPS is exploring giving vaccines to students.
Karen Ducey,

Chicago Public Schools students aged 16 and up may have a chance at a COVID-19 vaccine in the near future — though details are scarce and supply is unknown.

District officials presented the latest updates in their vaccination plans at Wednesday’s virtual Board of Education meeting, including that all CPS employees are eligible for a shot at four dedicated vaccination sites hosted at high schools around the city.

Dr. Kenneth Fox, the district’s medical chief, said CPS’ next steps are to educate and build trust with teachers and staff who have vaccine hesitancy, then to expand opportunities to older high school students.

“While Chicago is not part of the recent statewide eligibility expansion, we’ll also work with CDPH and partner providers to begin planning vaccinations for students who are 16 or older,” Fox said.

CPS officials didn’t answer questions about how far along that planning has come, when students could expect vaccination opportunities or where those vaccinations would be administered. A spokesman said the district would share additional information when it becomes available.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced last week he would make Illinoisans aged 16 and up eligible for a shot starting April 12 — but Chicago was excluded from those plans because the city is handling its own distribution. Chicago has said it needs more vaccine to greatly expand eligibility and hasn’t yet said when the broader population will have a chance at a vaccine.

Vaccines for younger children are currently being tested but haven’t received federal approval yet.

From left, Dr. Kenneth Fox, Chicago Public Schools Chief Health Officer and Dr. Jennifer Layden, Deputy Commissioner, Chicago Department of Public Health, discuss actions the district is taking to prevent the spread of coronavirus in Chicago. | Rich Hein/Sun-Times
Dr. Kenneth Fox, Chicago Public Schools Chief Health Officer (left) and Dr. Jennifer Layden, Deputy Commissioner, Chicago Department of Public Health, discuss actions the district is taking to prevent the spread of coronavirus last year.
Rich Hein/Sun-Times