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New COVID boosters for kids ages 5 and up are coming. But half of children aged 5 to 11 in Chicago are still not vaccinated

Children aged 5 to 11 could be eligible for the last COVID-19 bivalent booster before a possible winter surge. But in Chicago, half of children ages 5 to 11 have yet to complete the first round of COVID vaccines.

The rollout of the bivalent booster for children between 5 and 11 could take place within the next two weeks, Dr. Allison Arwady said during an online segment on Tuesday. The federal Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention must approve and sign off on the updated vaccine for this age group. The updated COVID reminder was made widely available for ages 12 and up last month.

But Arwady expressed disappointment at the number of Chicagoans of all ages who got the updated booster.

“Uptake of the updated vaccine is not where we need it,” Arwady noted.

If licensed, Pfizer’s bivalent vaccine will be given to children ages 5 to 11, and a Moderna vaccine will be available for children ages 6 and older, Arwady noted.

The deployment would come before winter when COVID-19 cases have spiked since the start of the pandemic. A spike in omicron cases led to nationwide school closures last winter, including a week-long standoff in January between the teachers’ union and Chicago Public Schools over safety measures. COVID safety.

Chicago’s seven-day average is below 300 reported COVID cases and its COVID transmission rate remains low, according to a CDC scoring system.

Still, Arwady urged Chicagoans to get the updated recall to avoid serious illnesses and prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed. She expressed fear that the virus could hurt communities that have already borne the brunt of the pandemic.

“I’m concerned that, especially in Latinx and black communities, we’re seeing a lag in vaccine uptake,” she said, “which means if we get a noticeable increase this winter, it’s more likely to hit harder in these communities”.

These disparities still exist in Chicago public schools. COVID vaccination rates remain lowest in predominantly black schools on the south and west sides, according to an analysis of the data by Chalkbeat.

Overall, less than 50% of CPS students have completed the immunization series in district-run schools. The number of CPS students who received the booster was not released by the district.

Citywide, about 3.1%, or 3,850, of 12- to 17-year-olds received the new, updated reminder.

About 4,258 students and 2,055 staff have tested positive for COVID-19 since the start of the new school year, depending on the neighborhood.

Mauricio Peña is a reporter for Chalkbeat Chicago, covering K-12 schools. Contact Mauricio at [email protected]



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