Chicago, IL

The CDC urges parents to get their teens vaccinated for Covid-19

Jennifer Geer

What do doctors say, and where can kids 12 and over get their shots in Illinois?

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(CDC/Unsplash)

New data from this spring shows that younger teens were hospitalized at a rate up to 3 times higher than rates that occur during flu seasons. Of the teens that were admitted to the hospital, none of them died, one-third of them ended up in the intensive care unit, and 5% were put on ventilators.

Further, 30% of teens that were hospitalized had no underlying conditions but were perfectly healthy before contracting Covid. The study used data from COVID-NET, a population-based surveillance system of lab-confirmed hospitalizations.

CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky called the results "deeply" concerning. "I ask parents, relatives, and close friends to join me and talk with teens about the importance of these prevention strategies and to encourage them to get vaccinated," Dr. Walensky said.

"Vaccination is our way out of this pandemic. I continue to see promising signs in CDC data that we are nearing the end of this pandemic in this country." She continued, "However, we all have to do our part and get vaccinated to cross the finish line."

Cases are falling in Illinois

Overall, Covid cases continue to fall in Illinois. In the week of May 29 to June 4th, state health officials announced 538 new cases with a test positivity rate of 1.5%. The positivity rate is at the lowest it has been since they began reporting on it.

And the reason for falling cases in Illinois? It's because nearly 68% of adults have received at least one dose of a Covid vaccine, and over half are now fully vaccinated.

Are Covid vaccines safe for teens?

Dr. Allison Arwady, the Chicago Health Commissioner, wants parents to know the vaccine is safe. She said during a previous online question and answer session, "Just to be really clear on this, (vaccines) have gotten the same level of scrutiny for kids, in fact, a higher level of scrutiny for kids. That’s why we start with adults and then move ahead with children.”

At the beginning of May, Advocate Aurora Health hosted a Facebook townhall to help ease parents' concerns over the vaccine. Dr. Markeita Moore, a pediatrician at Advocate Children’s Hospital told parents, "Twenty-two percent of all COVID cases were pediatric cases."

And Dr. Frank Belmonte, Chief Medical Officer at Advocate Children’s Hospital, advised during the townhall, "we don’t understand the long-term effects of the COVID virus, so protecting yourself is really important. We don’t know what’s going to happen five years down the line.”

Where to get teens vaccinated in Illinois?

You can start by looking on the vaccine.gov website. When you begin your search, be sure to select the Pfizer vaccine for 12 and under option, and enter your zip code.

Children with no insurance or children that meet other requirements may qualify for free vaccines with the Illinois Department of Health's Vaccines for Children Program (VFC). The VFC provides free vaccines to eligible children 18 years and younger. To find a provider in your area, go to the online search here.

Are parents willing to get their kids vaccinated?

Since May, when the FDA authorized children 12 and older to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, the CDC reports that 2.3 million 12 to 17-year-olds are fully vaccinated.

According to a survey taken by the Chicago Patch, out of 1,400 responses, 65% said they do plan to get their teens vaccinated. Of those who said no, almost 36% said they were worried about the safety of the vaccines, while 28% think that kids can't get seriously ill with Covid.

When will kids under 12 be able to get vaccinated?

It probably won't happen until late fall of 2021, and possibly not until the beginning of 2022. Dr. Anthony Fauci recently said on CNN that he is "cautiously optimistic" that children under age 12 could be eligible by Thanksgiving.

Children can experience severe Covid infections

Pediatric infectious disease specialist, Dr. Amy Edwards said, "I have seen children in the ICU on breathing machines for a month or more. Any idea how damaging that is to their lungs? It's so incredibly damaging," She continued, "I've got kids who didn't get to finish their school year, not because they couldn't do distance learning, but because they couldn't get out of bed with this. It's serious."

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Jennifer covers lifestyle content and local news for the Chicago area.

Chicago, IL
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