Local providers start administering COVID-19 vaccines to children | Chicago News – Community News

Local providers start administering COVID-19 vaccines to children | Chicago News

Younger children eager to be just like their older siblings. A road to eventually abolishing masks in schools, hugging grandparents without fear and otherwise returning to normal, albeit a new normal.

With the recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that children as young as 5 years old are eligible for Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine, Dr. Jenni Kusma of Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago said it’s been a good week being a pediatrician.

“We’ve had 18 months to figure out how to live with this new virus, and I just think it’s really going to help us take that next step,” she said. “The shot is safe. It’s been really well studied. It’s been reviewed by a lot of people. I’m confident in the safety of this vaccine.”

According to the state department of public health, about 15,150 pediatric doses have been administered to Illinois children in the 5-11 age group so far as of Monday afternoon.

Lurie’s clinic opened to young people on Friday and administered 1,172 doses to the newly eligible group over the weekend.

Research into childhood vaccinations took place over the summer, when the delta variant boomed and the vaccine was still effective, Kusma said.

Younger children receive a smaller dose than vaccines approved for people 12 years and older.

“What’s interesting and exciting is that that dose is smaller, but the immune response or that antibody response is actually very similar to the adolescents or adults who received the largest dose of the vaccine. So a smaller dose, but we’re seeing the same, great immune response,” she said.

UI Health started giving the kids the chance on Monday.

Medical Director of UI Health’s Children’s and Adolescent Center, Dr. Jalene Shoener, says her own child is getting the shot, and she strongly encourages others to do the same.

“It’s difficult to know which children will be severely affected and we do see children who need a lot of respiratory and heart support, kind of complications associated with COVID. Many people of all ages would do well to have had the infection, but it’s just so hard for us to know who is and who isn’t. And we’re seeing some kids with the infection in our hospital right now,” Shoener said.

Some parents are not ready.

Willie Preston is the father of six children, ages 5 to 16, and says he takes the coronavirus seriously.

They all wear masks, his family doesn’t go to big events, and they’ve put up signs reminding the kids to wash their hands often. Still, he finds it annoying that they are vaccinated.

“My wife and I are currently not in a place where we feel comfortable giving our children the vaccination. Certainly not our 5-year-old,” he said. “Looks like it’s rushed. We know too little about it.”

Parents like Preston are the ones Chicago Public Schools administrators had in mind when late last week the district announced it was canceling classes on Friday for a “vaccine awareness” day.

The district indicated it was an opportunity for the most recently eligible to receive the vaccine as soon as possible and before the holidays.

But for Preston, it’s frustrating.

“I think in a situation like this, the CPS should have allowed parents who were willing to have their children vaccinated to spend the day without penalizing the children, of course. And for those of us who currently choose not to have our kids vaccinated, we shouldn’t be punished, and the kids should be able to go to the school where we pay taxes to send them to,” Preston said.

He said it was clear to him that CPS leadership, including new CEO Pedro Martinez, did not consult with working families like his, or Preston said he guarantees that CPS would not have put families in the situation he is in now. is located.

“Childcare is an essential need for working-class parents like my wife and I,” said Preston. “Very short notice of kids having an extracurricular day that we weren’t 100% aware of has led to a childcare issue for my home and for my wife and I. So at this point we’re probably going to stick with names in the bag, shake it up and draw who goes that day.

Working parents who want to use the day to get their child vaccinated may not be able to do so, as a parent or guardian must be present when minors receive the COVID-19 shot.

Vaccine awareness Friday’s sudden day of no school comes the day after kids also don’t go to school on Thursday, for Veteran’s Day, a long-scheduled official school and federal holiday, leading critics to suspect the true motivation for CPS is a lack of enough substitute teachers.

CPS did not respond to that claim Monday afternoon.

Founder and CEO of professional childcare and babysitting service Babe Maven, Brittany Gabby, said she received frantic calls from parents last Thursday as CPS’s email went out and news reports were broadcast about this week’s added free school.

Her company partnered with Logan Square’s Third Coast Birth & Baby to host small-group seating, with seating for 16 children on Thursdays and Fridays. Places are filling up, but she said there are still a few available; parents should contact by email.

“It’s as simple as getting your child’s contact details. We wear masks, all our nannies wear masks. Lunch and a snack will be provided, so we’re going to try to fill the gap for that support for those two days,” Gabby said.

The Friday childcare problem may be more sudden than usual, but it’s indicative of a bigger problem facing families who are struggling to reconcile childcare with pandemic dips and turns, including returning to work and students entering and exiting the classroom. going out because of having to go into quarantine.

“What I notice is that parents want to receive care as quickly as possible, and they are looking for someone who is also committed to the long term. I see a huge desire in parents to have someone who is willing to just be all in and committed for at least two years… because the last two years have been a rollercoaster,” she said. “And then you have some who say, ‘I don’t even have the financial means to pay for the childcare I need. And then you have availability, in terms of accessibility, for people who live in neighborhoods or places where there may be no childcare or no childcare at all.”

Babe Maven will accommodate requests from babysitters, or mavens, who only want to care for families who have been vaccinated, and families who want to guarantee that their babysitter has received the COVID-19 vaccine.

In addition to the high demand for childcare assistance, Gabby said she has noticed an increase in caregivers who understand their value.

“You have a mix of people, parental preferences, maybe you want someone who has been vaccinated. And then you have caregivers who say, ‘Hey, I don’t feel comfortable getting vaccinated right now.’ And then you also have caregivers who say, ‘Hey, I only want to work with families who have been vaccinated,’ said Gabby. “And that’s the caveat now, that now our healthcare providers have their voices and speak and use them, and not just allow the industry to… it kind of becomes a level playing field in terms of the demands and the need and really aligns. When it aligns, it’s beautiful. The struggle is to get it there.”

Chicago’s libraries and parks will be open Thursday and Friday when schools are closed, and according to CPS, libraries will “promote computer access, grab-n-go kits, information about the vaccines, and library cards.”

Not all pediatric health care providers may be ready to give the vaccine by Friday. Additional training is required, and according to the Illinois Department of Public Health, providers who have requested less than 300 doses are still awaiting processing by the CDC.

But Chicago providers that have opened vaccinations for 5- to 11-year-olds, including UI Health and Lurie Children’s, are expanding availability on Friday to take advantage of the school day off.

Families and children do not need to be patients at Lurie or UIHealth to get vaccinated at the hospital’s clinics, but appointments must be made online first.

On Fridays, there are longer slots and Lurie’s offers extended hours, opening at 9am instead of the normal afternoon start time.

Follow Amanda Vinicky on Twitter: @AmandaVinicky