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Children can get COVID vaccines at Chicago schools next week — and $100 for signing up

A nurse, wearing dark-colored medical scrubs and a black face mask, vaccinates a young girl while her father holds her left hand.
The plan to administer the shots at elementary schools follows a highly anticipated, emergency clearance for the Pfizer vaccine earlier this week from federal health officials. 
Michael Ciaglo / Getty Images

Chicago Public Schools will begin offering the pediatric COVID-19 vaccine next Wednesday at four regional school-based hubs and via its mobile van.

The district says families can receive a $100 gift card if a student receives an initial vaccination at a Chicago Public Schools event.

The four Chicago Public Schools hubs that will offer free pediatric vaccines on alternating days are Michele Clark Magnet High School, on the city’s West Side; Richards High School and Chicago Vocational on the city’s South Side; and Roosevelt High School on the city’s Northwest Side. The clinics will offer vaccinations for 5- to 11-year-old students, vaccinations for older students and adults, and booster shots.

Families can sign up here for appointments, which are free and do not require government-issued ID or insurance. The mobile vaccination van will offer shots for students ages 5 to 11 starting next Wednesday. That day it will visit four sites: Simeon, Portage Park, Mozart, and Bradwell.

Parents must be present or consent for children to be vaccinated.

The Biden administration has said that schools should be a centerpiece of the rollout strategy for the pediatric COVID vaccine, along with pediatricians and pharmacies. Area Walgreens and CVS pharmacies were already offering appointments as of Thursday — and appointments were filling up. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago said it will offer a clinic on Friday with an initial round of 3,000 doses, but it was booked as of midday Thursday.

Chicago has said it will set up additional clinics to make it easier for families. It will launch clinics at City Colleges sites starting Nov. 13 and those will run every weekend through January at alternating locations. Find a full list below.

Families who get vaccinations at sites organized by the public health department also can qualify for a $100 gift card.

The plan to administer the shots at elementary schools follows a highly anticipated emergency clearance for the Pfizer vaccine earlier this week from federal health officials.

Chicago Public Schools will largely keep to a similar strategy as before, deploying the vaccine through regional hubs, a mobile van that travels to schools, and some appointment-based school sites.

But some have questioned that strategy since the rate of vaccination uptake among students age 12 and up has been worrisome to district officials.

As of late October, only 46.7% of eligible Chicago Public Schools students 12 and up had received the vaccine compared to nearly 76% of eligible residents over 18 who had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Chicago Public Schools has said it is launching a large marketing campaign to try to combat vaccine reluctance. In a large national survey of 21,000 parents conducted by Northwestern, Northeastern, Harvard, and Rutgers universities in August and September, a third of parents said they were hesitant due to long-term concerns about the effects of the vaccine.

The city’s teachers union has said the district needs to act quickly to expand the number of school-based sites and do a better job of engaging educators to reach families.

“The district should set up a vaccination clinic at every school, organize after-school events and provide significant incentives for families,” President Jesse Sharkey said Wednesday in a statement.

In clinical trials, the Pfizer shot was found to be 91% effective at preventing COVID in children — similar to effectiveness in adults, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Federal health officials said the side effects among children were “mild” and similar to other vaccines that children receive. The most common side effect was a sore arm, the CDC said in a statement.

The dose for younger children contains one-third the amount given to adults and older children. Children are supposed to receive two shots, administered three weeks apart.

Here’s are options for families and links where to sign up.

CPS sites: CPS’ regional vaccination clinics and mobile school-based events will begin offering the Pfizer vaccine for ages 5 to 11 starting Nov. 10.

Local pharmacies are running their own registration.

CDPH will host family vaccination clinics at City Colleges of Chicago starting Nov. 13. Registration opens Friday for appointments at the clinics, which will be open from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and will offer pediatric COVID-19 Pfizer vaccines, as well as Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson vaccines and booster doses to all Chicagoans.

  • Saturday, Nov. 13 – Richard J. Daley College, 7500 S Pulaski Rd.
  • Sunday, Nov. 14 – Wilbur Wright College, 4300 N Narragansett Ave.
  • Saturday, Nov. 20 – Kennedy-King College, 6301 S Halsted St.
  • Sunday, Nov. 21 – Olive-Harvey College, 10001 S Woodlawn Ave.
  • Saturday, Dec. 4 – Richard J. Daley College, 7500 S Pulaski Rd.
  • Sunday, Dec. 5 – Wilbur Wright College, 4300 N Narragansett Ave.
  • Saturday, Dec. 11 – Kennedy-King College, 6301 S Halsted St.
  • Sunday, Dec. 12 – Olive-Harvey College, 10001 S Woodlawn Ave.
  • Saturday, Dec. 18 – Truman College, 1145 W Wilson Ave.
  • Sunday, Dec. 19 – Malcolm X College, 1900 W Jackson Blvd.
  • Saturday, Jan. 8 – Truman College, 1145 W Wilson Ave.
  • Sunday, Jan. 9 – Malcolm X College, 1900 W Jackson Blvd.

Starting Nov. 15, CDPH’s in-home vaccination program, Protect Chicago At Home, will also offer pediatric vaccination for all children ages 5 to 11. Make an at-home appointment at Chicago.gov/AtHome or by calling 312-746-4835.

Standing CDPH immunization clinics will also offer pediatric COVID-19 vaccines by appointment only. This includes Uptown WIC 845 W. Wilson Ave., 2nd Level (call 312-742-3227 for an appointment) and the Greater Lawn WIC 4150 W. 55th St. (call 312-745-1477 for an appointment).

Updated: This story was updated to reflect that Chicago Public Schools will offer gift cards to families who receive first doses at district-run vaccination sites.

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