CHICAGO (CBS) -- As a CDC panel prepares to vote Wednesday on final approval of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 12 to 15, some of the Chicago area's top doctors gathered on Tuesday to help educate parents why it's safe to get your kids vaccinated.
"Getting your child a COVID-19 vaccine is critical to his or her wellbeing, as well as the wellbeing of our community," said Dr. Frank Belmonte, chief medical officer for Advocate Children's Hospital.
Belmonte and other doctors say children play a huge role in helping to end the pandemic.
The Pfizer vaccine would be the first vaccine available for kids 12 to 15 years old, and it's needed, because according to the CDC, the U.S. has seen about a 1.5 million coronavirus cases in kids between 11 and 17.
The CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices will meet Wednesday to vote on full approval of the Pfizer vaccine for kids ages 12 to 15.
Some children could begin getting their shots the same day.
This is crucial, because doctors say even though children have not had as many complications from COVID-19, many have gotten critically ill from the virus.
"When it comes to children and teens, the state of Illinois has ranked second in the nation in the number of overall diagnosed pediatric COVID-19 cases," Belmonte said.
Then there are the possible complications.
"It is early to predict, but some long-term complications are still possible, and are being studied, which is why it's important to protect your child against this disease," Belmonte said.
Vaccination sites in our area are getting ready. Parents can now make an appointment via Zocdoc. (More information about walk in sites below.)
In Chicago, seven city-operated mass vaccination sites will start offering the Pfizer vaccine to kids ages 12 to 15 starting Thursday. Children must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.
|SITE||ADDRESS||DAYS AND HOURS OF OPERATION||ELIGIBILIGY|
|A.A.C.C. @ Gallagher Way Wrigley Field*||1119 W. Waveland||Tuesday-Saturday: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.||Anyone 12+|
|Apostolic Faith Church||3823 S. Indiana||Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, Sunday: 9am - 2pm||Anyone 12+|
|Chicago State University Walk-Up||9501 South King Drive (Emil and Patricia A. Jones Convocation Center)||Mon-Friday: Noon - 6pm
|United Center drive-thru||1724 W. Madison||7-days/week: 9:00am - 7:00pm||Anyone 12+|
|Richard J. Daley College||7500 S. Pulaski||Tuesday-Friday: Noon-6pm
|Wilbur Wright College||4300 N. Narragansett||Wednesday and Friday: Noon-6pm
|Loretto Hospital||645 S. Central||Mondays, Wednesdays & Fridays: 12pm-6pm
*Vaccination site at American Airlines Conference Center at Gallagher Way is operated by Advocate Aurora.
Cook County Health said parents can already register children ages 12-15 for a vaccine at vaccine.cookcountyil.gov to get the latest updates and will be able to make appointments for those children online once final CDC approval has been granted. Those appointments will be available later this week.
"As a physician and a parent of a 13-year-old, I am thrilled that the Pfizer vaccine will be approved for children age 12 to 15," said Dr. Gregory Huhn, infectious disease physician and Cook County Health's COVID-19 vaccine coordinator. "We are now seeing the highest rates of COVID-19 infections in younger people. If we want kids to return to school, sports and friends as safely as possible, they should be vaccinated. It is our best chance at giving them some sense of normalcy back."
Five mass-vaccination sites in Cook County are already preparing for an anticipated rush for shots by expanding hours this week.
The sites are open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekdays. No appointments are necessary.
The following are the mass vaccination sites that will soon provide vaccines for children 12 to 15:
- Matteson - 4647 Promenade Way
- River Grove - Triton College, 2000 5th Ave.
- South Holland - South Suburban College, 15800 State St.
- Des Plaines - 1155 E. Oakton St.
- Forest Park - 7630 W. Roosevelt Rd.
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