On November 2, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention formally recommended the use of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 to 11, and today Cook County Health began vaccinating this age group with health system staff’s children being some of the first to receive the shot.

Health system leaders and physicians, along with other staff and their children reiterated the importance for all eligible kids and adults to get the COVID vaccine, especially with the holidays just around the corner.

In May, CCH began vaccinating 12- to 15-year-olds and to date the health system has administered nearly 30,000 doses to children in that age range. CCH has administered more than 900,000 vaccine doses in total across suburban Cook County.

“The children of Cook County and around the world have suffered greatly during the pandemic,” said Israel Rocha, Cook County Health CEO. “We know that there will be some hesitancy by parents, and while it is understandable, I urge you to get educated about vaccines and your child, and talk to your health care provider. No one is better equipped to answer your questions or concerns about the vaccine than your doctor as we continue to fight both the COVID-19 pandemic and rampant misinformation.”

In clinical trials, the Pfizer COVID vaccine was shown to be 90 percent effective in preventing symptomatic infection, including against the delta variant. Children ages 5 to 11 also had no severe reactions and had fewer side effects from the vaccine than teens and adults.

Additionally, unlike the Pfizer vaccine for teens and adults, the vaccine for kids 5 to 11 is one-third of an adult dose, regardless of the child’s age or weight, and it has shown to create a robust immune response.

“Individuals who have not yet received the COVID-19 vaccine are most at-risk of getting infected and spreading the virus,” said Dr. Gregory Huhn, vaccine coordinator for Cook County Health. “Getting vaccinated is the easiest and most effective way to stay safe. My 11-year-old son got vaccinated today. As a doctor and as a father, I am confident in the science behind the vaccine and encourage all eligible kids to get vaccinated.”

With this new expansion in eligibility, 94 percent of all suburban Cook County residents are now able to receive the COVID vaccine.

To ensure equitable access to the vaccine, pop-up events will be held across the county. The Cook County Department of Public Health is also providing guidance for vaccine distribution in suburban Cook County and will host school vaccination clinics.

“We at the Cook County Department of Public Health and Cook County Health are focusing on making the vaccine widely available throughout Cook County so that all of our kids can be protected from both the immediate and long-term effects of COVID-19,” said Dr. Jacqueline Korpics, a pediatrician and medical director for the COVID response at CCDPH. “Getting your children vaccinated is by far the most important thing you can do to keep your child, your family and your community safe.” 

Beginning November 5, all CCH sites will be offering the vaccine with walk-in availability for current CCH patients ages 5-11 to receive the Pfizer COVID vaccine. Patients and members of the community can also make a vaccine appointment by visiting vaccine.cookcountyil.gov or calling 833-308-1988 between 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. Monday through Friday. All children must be accompanied by a parent or guardian to get vaccinated.

CCH continues to offer primary vaccines for individuals ages 12 and older, and booster shots for eligible adults. All CCH sites offer the Pfizer, Modern and Johnson & Johnson vaccines.

Elizabeth Pedersen, Communications Manager