CHICAGO (WLS) -- With a quick prick and a loud cry, 16-month-old Paisley Cappelli received her dose of the COVID vaccine.
"Since she hasn't had it, we want to make sure we got her vaccinated as soon as possible to ensure she doesn't get it," said Colleen Cappelli, Paisley's parent.
The wait is finally over for millions of parents with kids 6 months through 5 years old. As soon as the CDC approved the vaccine on Saturday for the youngest population, Meredith Brenner was on-line looking for appointments for her kids.
"Especially since mask mandates have gone out the window, we haven't really felt safe taking them indoors," Brenner said.
Brenner booked an appointment Monday for her 15-month-old daughter, Aviva, at Lurie Children's Hospital, where hundreds of appointments are already taken. Lurie is only offering the two-dose Moderna vaccine.
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"We are trying to add more staff to increase our number of appointment slots. We just released them early this morning and they are already full," said Lurie Children's Hospital Clinical Services Vice President Jenny Elhadary.
Extra staff has been brought in to accommodate the demand at Children's Healthcare Associates. The Lincoln Park Pediatrician Practice received its first shipments of the three-dose Pfizer vaccine. Staff are booking appointments beginning Wednesday.
"The first roll-out for the first two weeks, we are just doing patients in our practice. Then, I expect to get more vaccine from the city so we can roll out to anybody who can't get to their regular pediatrician," said Children's Healthcare Associates Administrator Joyce McDevitt.
Children's Healthcare Associate will receive Moderna next week. Doctors said dosing intervals are the only difference between the two vaccines. Despite the initial demand, pediatricians are expecting some hesitancy. Brenner hopes to convince other parents to follow Aviva's lead.
"I'm more concerned about her catching COVID than I am having her vaccinated," Brenner said.
And for parents who can't get appointments at a hospital or pediatricians office, the city of Chicago will offer the vaccine at neighborhood centers and city college sites throughout the summer.
A small pharmacy and clinic in Bloomingdale has been getting a lot of attention on social media.
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Many parents said they drove there Monday after finding the location on parent Facebook groups or on Twitter. They even extended their hours. On Tuesday, parents continued to show up.
"It'll be a big relief. It'll be a big relief once the first jab gets in," parent Brian Kurth said.
Little 3-year-old Magdalena is getting her first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine Tuesday.
Kurth said as soon as the CDC gave the green light for children under 5 to get the vaccine, she was getting her shot.
"To keep her safe from long-term effects and short-term affects and just overall health, the least we could do," he said.
Other hospital groups like Advocate Children's Hospital said they'll also begin giving shots Tuesday at all of their pediatric clinics.
"We waited with anticipation for the kids above 5. I think we feel the same way about this group. This is the group that not only needs protection for their own safety but also to decrease the spread of the illness to family members. I think it will help with future mutations of the virus," said Dr. Frank Belmonte, Advocate Children's chief medical officer. "I think the biggest question that people have is: Is it safe? We have a ton of data now, and we've been giving this vaccine to kids 5 and up for quite some time. We have seen no side effects from this vaccine; we have seen no intolerance to the vaccine. The kids actually have done much better than the adults, in terms of even feeling sick the day after. We haven't seen it."
The Chicago Department of Public Health recommends families first reach out to their pediatrician or family medical provider to see if appointments are available.
But the city is also planning vaccination clinics with three Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois (BCBSIL) Blue Door Neighborhood Center sites in the coming weeks, and the at-home vaccinations program will start vaccinating younger kids this Saturday.
Reservations are recommended, but walk-ins are also accepted. Visit the links below to view the schedule for each location and register.
- Morgan Park - 11840 S. Marshfield Ave.: June 28, July 14, July 23, July 26, Aug. 11, Aug. 20, Sept. 8, Oct. 6
- Pullman - 756 E. 111th St.: June 30, July 13, July 16, July 28, Aug. 4, Aug. 10, Aug. 13, Sept. 1
- South Lawndale - 2551 W. Cermak Road: July 1, July 29, Aug. 3, Aug. 27, Aug. 31, Sept. 6, Sept. 24, Oct. 4
CDPH will host family vaccination clinics at City Colleges of Chicago. These events will offer Pfizer and Moderna for children 6 months through 4 years old, as well as Pfizer vaccines and booster doses to all Chicagoans. All clinics will be open 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Registration is recommended and is available at the links below. Walk-ins will be accommodated as space allows.
- June 25 - Kennedy-King College, 6301 S. Halsted St.
- July 2 - Richard J. Daley College, 7500 S. Pulaski Road, Wilbur Wright College, 4300 N. Narragansett Ave.
- July 9 - Malcolm X College, 1900 W. Jackson Blvd., Truman College, 1145 W. Wilson Ave.
- July 23 - Kennedy-King College
- July 30 - Richard J. Daley College and Wilbur Wright College
- Aug. 6 - Malcolm X College and Truman College
- Aug. 20 - Kennedy-King College
- Aug. 27 - Richard J. Daley College and Wilbur Wright College
- Sept. 3 - Malcolm X College and Truman College
Family vaccination clinics at Arturo Velasquez Institute in partnership with Alivio Medical Center five days a week (Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays-Saturdays) at 2800 S. Western Ave. Walk-ins welcome. Register online or by phone at 773-254-1400.
Starting Saturday, CDPH's in-home vaccination program, Protect Chicago At Home, will expand to offer Pfizer vaccine for anyone 6 months or older. Up to 10 people can be vaccinated at a time, offering a great opportunity for the entire family to get up-to-date on their COVID-19 vaccinations. Make an at-home appointment at Chicago.gov/AtHome or by calling 312-746-4835.
Standing CDPH immunization clinics will also offer Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines for anyone 6 months and up by appointment only. This includes:
- Uptown WIC, 845 W. Wilson Ave., 2nd Level (call 312-742-3227 for an appointment)
- Greater Lawn WIC, 4150 W. 55th St. (call 312-745-1477 for an appointment)
Chicago Public Schools' regional vaccination clinics and mobile vaccination events will resume in early July when CPS schools open for summer programming and will offer the vaccine for children under 5. Some of CPS' School Based Health centers will also be offering vaccines to children under 5. Information on specific opportunities will be available in the coming weeks and will be announced by CPS. Check cps.edu/vaccinations for more information and vaccine opportunities for CPS families. If a CPS family needs assistance with locating a Medical Home, they may also call the Healthy CPS Hotline at 773-553-KIDS (5437) for assistance.
Starting next week, some CDPH-sponsored community events will offer pediatric vaccinations for children under 5. For the calendar of community events, visit Chicago.gov/VaxCalendar.
Select children's hospitals will host pediatric vaccine events - check hospital websites for dates and more information.
For those who need help finding a nearby site, Vaccines.gov is a free, online service that you can use to search for pharmacies and providers that offer vaccination. Residents can also call the city's COVID-19 call center at 312-746-4835.
Parents must accompany children getting their vaccine. Learn more at Chicago.gov/COVIDvax.