File Photo | Photo: CDC

The health departments in Lake and McHenry counties are urging parents to get their kids ages 5-11 vaccinated after the CDC authorized the COVID vaccine for the age group this week.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration expanded the Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to include children ages 5-11.

On Tuesday, the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices unanimously recommended the expansion and hours later CDC Director Rochelle Walensky endorsed the recommendation.

The CDC said there are approximately 28 million children in the United States in the age group. Providers were allowed to begin vaccinating the age group immediately on Tuesday following Walensky’s endorsement.

The Lake County Health Department said the two-dose for children aged 5-11 is one-third of the dosage that older adolescents and adults receive.

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Pfizer’s kid-sized vaccine was nearly 91% effective in preventing COVID-19 among children aged 5-11 years, the CDC said.

In clinical trials, vaccine side effects were mild, self-limiting and similar to those seen in adults and with other vaccines recommended for children. The most common side effect was a sore arm.

The Lake County Health Department said they anticipate that the supply of pediatric vaccine will increase soon at pharmacies, healthcare providers and mobile clinics at schools and other sites.

“The opportunity for more of our community to get vaccinated against COVID-19 is something to celebrate,” said Mark Pfister, Executive Director of the Lake County Health Department.

“I urge parents to get their eligible children vaccinated against COVID-19. Increased protection will be crucial as we head into colder months and many of us start to spend more time indoors,” Pfister said.

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The Lake County Health Department said they encourage parents to contact their children’s doctor, check with local pharmacies, and register at allvax.lakecohealth.org to get notified about scheduling a vaccine appointment.

The Lake County Health Department said they will begin offering COVID-19 vaccinations for ages 5-11 on Monday, but appointments will be limited.

The McHenry County Department of Health said they will begin holding vaccine clinics on select days at its Crystal Lake and Woodstock locations for children who are 5-11.

Those interested in scheduling an appointment can visit bit.ly/MCDHCOVIDVaxLoc.

“Many parents have experienced loss of work and witnessed the emotional impact of COVID-19 on their children. Choosing the vaccine for our youngest children will lessen their chance of COVID-19 disease and hospitalizations,” McHenry County Department of Health Medical Advisor Dr. Laura Buthod said.