COVID vaccine: 12-15 year olds expected to become eligible Thursday, appointments available now

DES PLAINES, Ill. (WLS) -- After Pfizer's COVID vaccine was authorized for kids ages 12-15, several mass vaccination sites and Chicago area hospitals are already taking appointments for young teens to get vaccinated.

The United Center is among several city and suburban vaccination sites planning to accept 12 to 15-year-olds starting Thursday. Five Cook County mass vaccination sites that offer the Pfizer vaccine are expanding their hours from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. to make it easier for parents of young teens to get their kids vaccinated.

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Pending federal approval, 12 to 15-year-olds will be vaccine eligible in Chicago starting Thursday, as well as in Cook, Lake, Kane and Will Counties. In DuPage County, that age group will be eligible on Monday.

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Several mass vaccination sites and Chicago area hospitals are already booking appointments for young teens to get vaccinated.



Siblings Jenna and Anthony Durava hope the vaccine will mean more freedom this summer.

"I'm most excited to go back to going on vacation. We had our Disney Cruise get cancelled twice now," Jenna Durava said.

"Basketball, for sure. Our league got cancelled last season because of COVID. So I'm looking forward to that," Anthony Durava said.

Music and a raffle will make for a festive atmosphere when up to 500 people get their Pfizer doses on Sunday in a cafeteria at Instituto del Progreso Latino. The Pilsen non-profit hopes expanding eligibility for kids as young as 12 will unite families.

"And to have young people to say, 'Do it for me, mom. Do it for me, grandma. Do it for me, and I will do it for you as a family member. Why? Because you're important,'" said Karina Ayala-Bermejo, president & CEO, Instituto del Progreso Latino. "We want you to be fully protected. I know you want to get back to concerts and sporting events in a way that's super safe for you and your family."
SEE ALSO | COVID vaccine hesitancy puts Illinois, US behind on race to herd immunity

And while many parents are eager to get their younger teens vaccinated, others are still hesitant, even while vaccinated themselves. A group of pediatricians spoke out Tuesday in the hopes of providing that much-needed reassurance.

"As a pediatrician and a father of two daughters that are in this age group, I'm getting my daughters vaccinated as soon as I can schedule the appointment," said Dr. Frank Belmonte, Advocate Children's Hospital.

And while for now, refrigeration issues prevent most pediatrician offices from offering the vaccine, NorthShore University Health System is already partnering with Evanston Township High School to bring vaccines to students there. It's a setting they hope will be more comfortable for all involved.

"We said we will make whatever accommodations possible to get as many students vaccinated as quickly as possible," said Dr. Marcus Campbell, Evanston Township High School.

ABC7 reached out to CPS to see what their plans are and were told that while for now they will not require children to be vaccinated for the fall, they are planning to hold family vaccination events at district schools in the coming weeks.
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