COVID-19 shots for children 12 to 15 double in two weeks

The number of COVID-19 vaccine shots administered to children ages 12 to 15 has more than doubled in two weeks, Illinois Department of Public Health data shows.

As of Friday, 346,037 doses of Pfizer Inc./Biotech’s COVID-19 vaccine had been given to that age group compared to 158,811 on June 4, the IDPH reports.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Pfizer’s two-dose vaccine for 12- to 15-year-olds on May 10. There are 659,053 children ages 12 to 15 in Illinois and so far, more than 50% of that demographic has received at least one or more shots.

In comparison, vaccination trends for all eligible Illinoisans ages 12 and older have been shrinking since mid-April when average daily inoculation counts surpassed 131,000. The IDPH on Friday reported the daily vaccination average was 42,153.

Children 11 and younger are not yet eligible for any COVID-19 vaccines, although Pfizer officials indicated they hope to ask for emergency use authorization from the federal government in September.

Uptake of the vaccine is important with the Delta variant of COVID-19 recently circulating in Illinois and the U.S., said Dr. Gregory Huhn, infectious disease physician and COVID-19 vaccine lead for Cook County Health.

The Delta variant is a small fraction of cases nationwide but it’s highly contagious and experts expect it will gain traction.

“It has higher viral loads and individuals that are infected shed virus over a longer period of time,” Huhn said last week. “The good news is that we know our current vaccines are effective in combating the Delta variant.”

Based on data from the United Kingdom where the Delta variant is widespread and has caused outbreaks at schools and among unvaccinated people, Pfizer and Moderna Inc.’s vaccines are 88% effective at preventing infection and Johnson & Johnson’s one-dose version is 60% effective, he noted.

“Given it’s highly transmissible, we can expect outbreaks in settings where people are more close together and indoors. For kids we still need to keep up our guard for social distancing, and masking and hand hygiene,” Huhn said