Woodstock resident Jessica Beverly wasted little time signing up her 6-year-old child for a COVID-19 vaccine appointment after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended the Pfizer shots for kids ages 5 to 11 late Tuesday.
Beverly said Wednesday she was able to book an appointment to get the child a shot Nov. 11 at a CVS on Algonquin Road in Lake in the Hills.
“It’s just so much better than the alternative, right? My worst nightmare was my kid getting [COVID-19] and going to the hospital, and if this will prevent that, I am 100% for it,” Beverly said.
While she was excited for one child to be vaccinated, she has a 3-year-old who is still ineligible for the vaccine, and urged people to continue taking precautions against the coronavirus like social distancing and mask-wearing in public.
“The pandemic is not over here. Everybody, people who don’t have kids in their lives, are like, ‘It’s over, it’s done, we don’t need masks.’ No, I still have a kid that can’t be vaccinated,” Beverly said.
The McHenry County Department of Health will begin giving vaccines to kids younger than 12 starting Nov. 9 at clinics in Woodstock and Crystal Lake. Parents are able to make appointments for their kids through the health department website.
The health department said clinics for children will be held on different days than clinics for those age 12 and older who can already get the vaccine.
“Many parents have experienced loss of work and witnessed the emotional impact of COVID-19 on their children. Choosing the vaccine for our youngest children will lessen their chance of COVID-19 disease and hospitalizations,” health department medical adviser Dr. Laura Buthod said in the release.
Buthod said children may experience many of the same side effects as adults from the vaccine, but they are less common among children.
Pfizer’s vaccine for 5- to 11-year-olds is one-third the amount adults are given, according to the health department.
Northwestern Medicine infectious disease specialist Dr. Irfan Hafiz, in an interview with the Northwest Herald last month, also said the vaccine appears to be well-tolerated in children, with a similar efficacy level to ones made for adults.
Because this is a large population group that has not previously been eligible for vaccinations, there is a lot of interest in getting them inoculated, Hafiz said.
“Even though the mortality risk is low, there is considerable morbidity in that group,” Hafiz said. “And more importantly, [children] are vectors to transmit to other individuals who may be at higher risk, so therefore, really, the better we can protect that group, the quicker we’re likely to get out of this pandemic.”
Over the past week, an increasing number of calls from parents inquiring about how to set up an inoculation appointment for their children younger than 12 have been coming into the Crystal Lake and Lake Barrington pediatric clinics run by Advocate Children’s Medical Group, said Sarah Gabriel, the practice manager for those two locations.
“Especially today, we were bombarded by parents wanting wanting to schedule appointments,” Gabriel said Wednesday.
They plan to start giving shots to 5- through 11-year-olds at the Crystal Lake and Lake Barrington clinics by Friday.
“This is very fast-moving. The Advocate system is trying to put everything in place. It’s very similar to the adult vaccine. We’re taking our time but going as fast as possible at the same time. Our parents are very excited about it. We have about a hundred people on our waiting list,” Gabriel said. “We’re very excited about it.”
She said her pediatric group received its first shipment of vaccines for children Wednesday and is working to get more to satisfy the demand.
CVS Pharmacy on Wednesday announced that select locations plan to offer the two-dose primary series of the Pfizer vaccine for children starting on Sunday. Appointments can be made online at CVS.com.
Walgreens will begin vaccinating children on Saturday, the company said in a release. At Walgreens, people can grab a spot by going to Walgreens.com/ScheduleVaccine, through the Walgreens app or by calling 1-800-Walgreens.
Citing the wide availability of vaccines in the area at pharmacies, pediatrician and medical provider offices, Crystal Lake Elementary School District 47 Superintendent Kathy Hinz said the district does not plan on hosting vaccine clinics for children, though it is hosting a booster vaccination clinic for employees on Friday.
“Like adults, children who are fully vaccinated will not need to quarantine or be excluded from school if they’ve been exposed to COVID-19 unless they are symptomatic or test positive,” Hinz said in a message to families.
Free COVID-19 PCR testing for District 47′s students, staff and their families still is available at its administrative office at 300 Commerce Drive in Crystal Lake.
Marengo Union Elementary School District 165 Superintendent Lea Damisch also said the district does not currently have plans for a vaccine clinic for students and instead students likely will be directed to obtain them through their pediatrician.
Huntley School District 158 also said it does not have any plans at this time to host a clinic at their schools.
For those with questions about the vaccine for young children, a panel of pediatricians with PediaTrust, which runs clinics throughout northern Illinois including in Crystal Lake and Barrington, will be hosting a live question-and-answer at 6 p.m. Tuesday via Zoom, according to its website.