Special Edition: The COVID-19 Vaccine and Your Child
November 2021
The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for kids ages 5-11.

Cook County Health is pleased to be able to offer the following information that can be shared with interested stakeholders.

Thank you for helping us to spread the word about COVID-19 vaccines.
Frequently Asked Questions about the COVID-19 Vaccine for Kids Ages 5-11 with Dr. Monica Mercon, Infectious Disease Physician
Caption (left): Dr. Monica Mercon, with her two children who were vaccinated at Cook County Health on November 5.

Should my child get the COVID-19 vaccine?
Yes. Studies found the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to be safe and effective. There are many benefits to getting kids vaccinated against COVID-19.

The vaccine helps prevent kids from getting COVID-19. While COVID-19 in children can be milder than in adults, some kids can become very sick and require hospitalization. Children can also have post-COVID complications or long-lasting symptoms. The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine was shown to be 90% effective in preventing infection in kids ages 5-11 in clinical trials.
By getting vaccinated, kids are also less likely to get sick, allowing them to stay in school and participate in the things they enjoy.
The vaccine also helps reduce the spread of COVID-19. This is especially important as the cold weather forces more people indoors and with the upcoming holidays.
Where can my child get the COVID-19 vaccine?
All Cook County Health sites will be offering the vaccine. To find hours and a site closest to you, visit myshotcookcounty.com.

The COVID-19 vaccine will continue to be offered in many physician offices. We know that families build trust with their pediatrician or family doctor, particularly when it comes to vaccinations. Parents are encouraged to reach out to their provider with questions.

We also know that a lot of families do not have access to a primary care physician or pediatrician, which is why local health departments are working with schools and pharmacies to offer pop-up vaccination clinics.

The vaccine is free for everyone, both kids and adults. You don’t need to show proof of insurance or proof of immigration to receive it.

How does the vaccine dosage differ from adults?
For kids, the dose of the Pfizer vaccine is smaller, one-third of the adolescent and adult doses. The needle used is also smaller.

Kids’ immune systems are more sensitive than adults so even with the smaller dose, their body creates a strong immune response.

Like adults and adolescents, kids ages 5 to 11 will be fully vaccinated after two shots. The Pfizer vaccine for this younger age group is being given in two 10-microgram doses, administered 21 days apart.

What are the side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine?
Young kids will generally experience similar types of side effects from COVID-19 vaccines as teens and adults — but likely with less severity, says the FDA. Notably, kids experienced post-shot fever and chills at a far lesser rate than adults — and with much less severity — during clinical trials.

When will kids younger than 5 years old be able to get the vaccine?
Right now, Pfizer is conducting clinical trials for its vaccine for kids as young as 6 months old. The trials for kids are split into three age groups: 5-11, 2-5, and 6 months to 2 years old.
Pfizer has said results from the clinical trials for kids under 5 could come as soon as the end of the year with federal review and approval hopefully a month or two later. 

These questions can be downloaded into a shareable PDF found in English and Spanish below. You are welcome to distribute.
Myth-Busting COVID-19 Rumors with Dr. Mope Akintorin, Chair of Cook County Health Pediatrics
There is plenty of misinformation out there regarding COVID-19 and the COVID vaccine. To clear up any confusion, Dr. Mope Akintorin, chair of Cook County Health’s pediatrics department, is tackling some of the common myths.
Myth: Kids don’t get sick from COVID-19
Fact: Kids have been less likely than adults to show symptoms of COVID-19, but that doesn’t mean the virus isn’t dangerous. Some children can get severely ill, especially those with underlying conditions like obesity and asthma. Even kids who are asymptomatic can spread the disease to others.
In addition, some children infected with COVID-19 may not get very sick right away, but a few weeks later may come down with Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome of Children (MIS-C). Those children develop fever, rashes, red eyes, diarrhea and vomiting, which can worsen over a few days. The inflammation can affect the heart, blood vessels and other organs, making some children very ill and in need of urgent care.
Myth: The COVID-19 vaccine isn’t safe for children
Fact: Throughout history, vaccines have helped prevent infectious diseases that had once killed or seriously harmed many children. Without vaccines, children would be at risk for severe illnesses, including measles, mumps, rotavirus and whooping cough, which could result in disability or even death.
The COVID-19 vaccine has been under more scrutiny than any other vaccine in recent history. The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, approved for people ages 5 and older, has been shown in trials to be safe and effective in preventing severe infection.
Myth: Wearing a mask all day is dangerous for children
Fact: No, wearing a mask is not dangerous for children. They can still breathe through and around the mask. Masks can block spit and large droplets produced by the respiratory system from an infected person. Contrary to internet rumors, it does not cause a build-up of carbon dioxide as the gas can get through the mask.
Myth: It is better for immunity to get COVID-19 – like I did with the chickenpox
Fact: Natural immunity is not enough. Getting COVID-19 and recovering (known as "natural immunity") does not appear to generate protection that is as long-lasting or robust as the protection generated after vaccination.
Myth: Children can't spread COVID-19
Fact: Children infected with COVID-19 can spread the disease even if they do not have noticeable symptoms or become very sick. 
Myth: COVID-19 vaccines can alter a child's DNA or impact their fertility later
Fact: The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is an mRNA vaccine. MRNA vaccines do not change or interact with your DNA in any way. The mRNA tells our cells to build protection against the virus that causes COVID-19. The material cannot enter the nucleus of the cells where our DNA is. The COVID-19 vaccine works with the body's natural defenses to safely develop immunity to disease. Again, the vaccines do not affect your DNA.
There is also no evidence that the COVID-19 vaccine affects fertility. On the contrary, vaccinated people are getting pregnant and others have had healthy babies.
Cook County Health Walk-in Locations and Hours
Cook County Health is offering walk-in availability and appointments for the COVID-19 vaccine. To make an appointment, visit vaccine.cookcountyil.gov or call 833-308-1988 between 8 a.m. – 8 p.m., Monday through Friday. Click on the fliers for a downloadable version.
Thoughts on the COVID-19 Vaccine as a Parent and a Physician
"The pandemic has been so incredibly hard on our kids, mentally and socially. I knew immediately I wanted to get my kids vaccinated from COVID-19 because it gives them their best chance at a normal childhood."
- Dr. Whitney Lyn, Family Medicine Physician and mom of two, watching her son get vaccinated at Cook County Health on November 5.
Timeline for the Pfizer Vaccine Approval for 5-11 year-olds
October 7, 2021
Clinical trial complete
Pfizer compiled safety and efficacy data from its clinical trial and asked the FDA to extend the emergency use authorization for the vaccine to this younger age group.
October 26, 2021
FDA advisory panel vote
The panel voted that the benefits of the vaccine outweigh the risks based on data from the clinical trial and presentations from federal scientists.
October 29, 2021
FDA authorization
The agency voted to extend emergency use authorization to this age group.
November 2, 2021
CDC advisory panel vote
The panel voted to recommend the newly FDA-authorized vaccine for all children in the 5-11 age group.
November 2, 2021
CDC recommendation
CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky endorses the advisory panel’s decision.
November 8, 2021
Available to the public
Pediatric shots start going out to pediatricians’ offices, public health departments and pharmacies.
Cook County Health Center at Belmont Cragin Open

Cook County Health's new community health center in Chicago's Belmont-Cragin neighborhood is now open.

The 25,000-square-foot building is located at 5501 W. Fullerton Avenue and replaces the Logan Square Health Center.

The new health center will offer pediatric and adult primary care, women’s health, dental care as well as specialty services like cardiology and endocrinology. The Women, Infants and Children (WIC) food assistance program will also be on-site. COVID-19 vaccines are also available here.
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