DuPage County lags suburbs, Lake County leads in vaccinating kids 5 to 11

DuPage County Health Department officials dispute the state’s figures

Despite having the highest rate of fully vaccinated residents among the 102 counties in Illinois, DuPage County is lagging in getting needles into the arms of its younger residents who just recently became eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine.

According to Illinois Department of Public Health records, less than 2% of DuPage County children between the ages of 5 and 11 have received a dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine that became available to them earlier this month. That’s just 1,512 children in that age group.

DuPage County Health Department officials dispute the state’s figures.

“According to the information we have received from the I-CARE database, DuPage County has over 7,500 individuals in that age category who have received their first dose, which would calculate to nearly 9%,” DuPage County Health Department spokeswoman Mila Tsagalis said. “We hope to have more clarity on this situation within the next couple of days.”

Based on the IDPH figures, more than 10,000 Lake County children between the ages of 5 and 11 have received a dose of the vaccine, which amounts to 15.4% of that age group.

In suburban Cook County, 11.4% of that age group has received one dose.

In McHenry County, 8.7% of children ages 5 to 11 have received a dose of the vaccine, and 7.8% of that population in Will County.

In Kane County, 7.2% of children between the ages of 5 and 11 have gotten the vaccination.

More than half the counties in the state have higher vaccination rates for children between the ages of 5 and 11 than DuPage County, according to IDPH figures.

“Compared side by side, we know there is a higher risk of complications from COVID-19 illness in our children versus risks of any serious adverse effect from the vaccine,” said Dr. Alin Abraham, an internal medicine and pediatrics specialist at Northwestern Medicine in Lisle. “If we would get the vaccine ourselves, we should give our children the same protection as well. With children back in school and doing sports and other extracurriculars in person, it’s more important than ever.”

Some health officials believe it’s a distribution issue as some pediatricians in the county say they’ve been telling eager parents to schedule appointments at national pharmacy chains instead of waiting until they get doses delivered.

Despite the slow going for younger children, DuPage County is reporting 66.5% of its 928,589 residents are fully vaccinated. The rest of the suburbs also are some of the highest fully vaccinated areas of the state, with more than 57% of the populations in the other collar counties fully vaccinated.

Statewide, IDPH records show 57.1% of the state’s 12.7 million residents are now fully vaccinated, according to the most recent records released Nov. 15.

Since Nov. 12, another 210,213 doses of COVID-19 vaccines were administered, IDPH officials reported.

Vaccine providers have administered 16,256,855 doses since they became available in mid-December 2020.

State public health officials also reported 1,601 COVID-19 patients are being treated at hospitals throughout Illinois, up 22% from a week ago.

Of those hospitalized, 323 are in intensive care, according to Illinois Department of Public Health records.

Over the past three days, 40 more COVID-19 deaths have been recorded throughout the state, while another 8,922 new cases were diagnosed.

The state’s death toll from the virus as of Nov. 15 stands at 26,117, with 1,744,508 infections recorded since the outset of the pandemic.

The state’s seven-day case positivity rate is at 2.7%, up slightly from Nov. 12 when IDPH reported it at 2.5%. Case positivity is the percentage of test results that show a new infection, and a seven-day average is used to account for any anomalies in the daily reporting of those figures. Health officials use the rate to help determine what, if any, social mitigations should be in place to prevent the spread of disease.

Exactly one year ago, the state’s seven-day case positivity rate was at 12.8%, one of the highest levels ever recorded in Illinois for that metric.

The state’s seven-day new case rolling average was at 12,233 exactly one year ago. Now, IDPH is reporting the state is seeing 3,452 new cases a day over the past week.

Health experts credit access to vaccines for the difference in case rates between now and a year ago.