Local grammar schools were ready with a plan once the Federal Drug Administration approved on Friday, Oct. 29, a COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5-11.
Later that day, a letter signed by the six public school districts that feed into New Trier Township High School announced two November vaccine clinics for the districts’ students.
While the Pfizer-BioNTech is now FDA-approved for ages 5-11, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention must still OK the distribution of the medicine and is set to review the circumstances this week.
The districts — Wilmette 39, Winnetka 36, Glencoe 35, Kenilworth 38, Avoca 37 and Sunset Ridge 29 — have partnered with Jewel-Osco to offer the clinics, according to the letter. The first will be held from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. on Fridays, Nov. 12 (first dose) and Dec. 3 (second dose), at Carleton Washburne Junior High in Winnetka, and the second from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. on Tuesdays, Nov. 23 and Dec. 14, at West School in Glencoe.
In a statement, the schools wrote: “The effort is meant to supplement other opportunities available to our students through their medical providers, as registration will be limited to the number of doses we are able to secure.”
The children’s version of the Pfizer vaccine contains just one-third of the dosage as its adult counterpart, health officials say, and the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee recommended its approval on Tuesday, Oct. 26.
In a press release, the FDA said that the immune response in trials for children aged 5-11 is 90.7 percent, a number similar to individuals aged 16-25.
The information also said that “no serious side effects” were detected after the vaccine’s safety was studied in 3,100 children (5-11). Side effects that were noted in the study included fatigue, headache, nausea and decreased appetite and most occurred within two days and went away within two days of vaccination.
The FDA notes the risk of myocarditis and pericarditis — rare heart conditions — but says the benefits of the vaccine outweigh the risks. The organization has reported that 691 children have died from COVID-19 since the onset of the pandemic — 146 of those were children aged 5-11
Prior to the FDA’s green-lighting the vaccine for ages 5-11, Cook County Public Health promoted the vaccine in a press release Thursday, Oct. 29, saying it was working with local pediatricians, pharmacies, hospitals and local school districts to provide “outreach, education and on-site COVID-19 vaccinate clinics.”
“Vaccinating as many people as possible – including our children – is the only way to put this pandemic behind us,” said Kiran Joshi, co-Lead and senior medical officer of CCDPH, in the release. “With the holiday season approaching, vaccinating children means we can safely celebrate with extended family and friends – something that wasn’t a safe option last year.”
The county has a published on its website a list of suburban sites that provide the vaccine to eligible individuals.
According to Northwestern Medicine, New Trier Township is seeing 98.6 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people with a COVID-19 positivity rate of 1.3 as of Thursday, Oct. 28.
Cook County data shows that the new-case rate among individuals under 20 years old has outpaced the overall rate since early September. As of Wednesday, Oct. 27, the rate was 15.7 new cases per 100,000 people, while the overall rate was 12.57 new cases/100,000.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children (age 0-17) represented 25 percent — or 117,702 of 469,078 — of the new cases reported nationwide from Oct. 14-21. Throughout the pandemic that number is 16.5 percent. The AAP also reports that up to 2 percent of child COVID-19 cases have resulted in hospitalization (with 24 states reporting data).
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