CHICAGO (WLS) -- Children across the state between the ages of 12 and 15 rolled up their sleeves to get the Pfizer vaccine on Thursday, the first day mass vaccination sites and hospitals began administering the vaccine to the younger age group.
The good news is, this is the exact same Pfizer vaccine and dosage that is used for adults. So making an appointment should be relatively straightforward: Parents can simply go to any site that already offers Pfizer.
All mass vaccination clinics in Chicago will be open for the new age group Thursday. No appointment is needed, but parental consent is required.
Chicago mass vaccination clinics offering Pfizer vaccine to anyone 12 and older:
A.A.C.C. at Gallagher Way Wrigley Field
Apostolic Faith Church
Chicago State University
Richard J. Daley College
Wilbur Wright College
A mobile vaccination bus will bring vaccines to 15 Chicago Public Schools in May and June for students and their parents. The bus will offer Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson vaccines from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the following locations:
-May 15: Chicago Vocational Career Academy, Juarez, Marshall, Nash, and Westinghouse (Bus will return for second doses on June 5)
-May 22: Bouchet, Brunson Ray, Simeon, and Southside(Second doses on June 12)
-May 29: Carver, Englewood STEM, Fenger, and King (Second doses on June 19)
WATCH | Vaccine-hesitant mom says pandemic changed her mind
Geneva Dadabo, 12, closed her eyes as the needle went in, but it was over before she even knew it. She was among the first in line Thursday morning to get the Pfizer vaccine at Advocate Sherman Hospital in Elgin. She said she is looking forward to more normalcy.
"Not having to wear the mask, being able to hug and play games," Geneva said.
Her mother, Rachael Dadabo, said she used to be hesitant about vaccines in general, but now she has become a believer.
"I started to view vaccination as more of a community protection versus individual, and that's really what shifted me to being much more pro-vaccines," Rachael Dadabo said.
The vaccine clinic here has been relatively busy giving shots to those over 16 for some time now. But the head of pediatrics at Advocate Sherman Hospital said getting younger adolescents vaccinated could make a big difference for the entire community.
"It's just as important for the kids to be vaccinated to help protect their friends, their family, their peers, and more importantly, the community at large," said Dr. Rupal Upadhyay.
More than a third of those getting vaccinated there on Thursday were under 16, including Madeline Osmanski, who said she is the first among her friends, though most are planning on getting it. She feels fortunate at this point not to have any side effects.
"I feel pretty good. I'm glad I got the shot," said Osmanski.
Advocate Sherman Hospital just administered their 40,000th dose of the vaccine Wedneday. And with a fresh population of 12-15 year olds lining up to get it, they plan to keep the clinic open indefinitely.
Several Cook County mass vaccination sites are offering extended hours so kids can come after school starting Thursday.
"It's just kind of a weight off my shoulders knowing that I'm vaccinated, and if I do get COVID or corona, I will not be heavily impacted by it because I got the vaccine," said Camila Rodriguez. She is 12 years old and has Type 1 diabetes.
"With her being vaccinated, we're more at ease for her to return to school, return to other activities she had to stop because of the virus," said Grecia Rodriquez, Camila's mother.
Matthew Liebl, 15, has allergies and a long list of reasons for getting the shot.
"We can play sports and stuff, go back to school, go places, hang out with friends some more," he said.
Children are eager, even if they're a bit nervous about the needle.
"I just don't like getting shots, blood drawn or any other kind of shots, but I was really excited to have this over with," said Chloe Sedler, 15.
"It's been remarkably easy to sign up, so we're just very, very, happy," her father said.
In Des Plaines, Cook County Health officials along with their children push the message at a vaccination site open for appointments and walk-ins.
"I want all parents to know the vaccine is safe and incredibly effective at protecting their children, and they should have them vaccinated as soon as possible," said Dr. Kiran Joshi, co-lead, Cook County Dept. of Public Health.
Cook County Health workers did just that. Their kids all held up signs listing their reasons for getting the vaccine.
"The COVID-19 vaccine is my shot on getting back to a normal life soon," Jaida Prachand said.
"My COVID vaccine shot is my chance to play sports and protect my family members around me," Leo Loza said.
And being kids, they also have this on their mind.
"It gives me more freedom. Now I can see my friends," said Nola Mandell, 15.
WATCH | Kids get vaccinated at Wrigley Field mass vaccination site
At the Gallagher Way mass vaccination site at Wrigley Field, there was a steady stream of people Thursday morning.
And the kids seemed very excited to be there, saying getting their shots is going to make them feel safer.
Liam Samet, 12, was accompanied by his mom.
The student at Skinner North was excited about getting his shot and making plans.
"Kind of hang out with my friends more, have some play dates, hang out, things like that," Samet said. "It's really exciting to get your vaccine. It's like a light at the end of the tunnel."
Fellow 12-year-old Zara Smejkal agreed.
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"It's kinda nice because because I like don't have to worry about COVID as much anymore," Smejkal said.
Eighth-grader Natalie Arora said she was excited to feel safer and maybe even travel.
"Of course I need to get my second vaccine," she said.
Lori Eppstein, Arora's mother, said the choice was a "no-brainer."
"You know, we don't want her to catch COVID, obviously, and, also, if she catches COVID, we can catch it, too; so even though we're now vaccinated, it's always a risk," Eppstein said.
Some kids came with appointments, and some simply walked in without a problem.
One family said there was a glitch, since their daughter didn't have an ID card, but the vaccination site worked it out, and she was able to get her shot.
Meanwhile, Walgreens is planning to offer shots to younger teenagers at its pharmacies.
The Deerfield-based company said it's working with more than 1,000 school districts across the country offering vaccinations to school children in their stores and clinics.
"The roll out for kids is going to be exactly like we have done for adults," said Dr. Kevin Ban, chief medical officer at Walgreens.
Jewel-Osco is also offering younger teens vaccines.