NOTE: NBC Chicago will offer a live stream of the governor’s address beginning at 1:30 p.m. CT. Watch it live in the player above.
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker is scheduled to give a COVID-19 update Monday, where he is expected to discuss pediatric vaccinations one day before an FDA panel debates whether or not to recommend kid-sized Pfizer shots for children ages 5 to 11.
The governor is slated to speak at 1:30 p.m. from Chicago’s Thompson Center.
The governor’s address comes just after the White House announced children ages 5 to 11 will soon be able to get a COVID-19 shot at their pediatrician’s office, local pharmacy and potentially even their school, detailing plans for the expected authorization of the Pfizer shot for elementary school youngsters in a matter of weeks.
This week will mark a major step in authorizing COVID vaccines for such age groups.
The Food and Drug Administration’s panel of expert advisers is set to debate whether the Pfizer shots are ready for the nation’s roughly 28 million children ages 5 to 11 Tuesday.
Federal health regulators said late Friday that child-size doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine appear highly effective at preventing symptomatic infections in elementary school children and caused no unexpected safety issues.
In their analysis, FDA scientists concluded that in almost every scenario the vaccine’s benefit for preventing hospitalizations and death from COVID-19 would outweigh any serious potential side effects in children. But agency reviewers stopped short of calling for Pfizer’s shot to be authorized.
If the FDA authorizes the shots, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will make additional recommendations on who should receive them the first week of November. Children could begin vaccinations early next month — with the first youngsters in line fully protected by Christmas.
Full-strength Pfizer shots already are recommended for anyone 12 or older, but pediatricians and many parents are anxiously awaiting protection for younger children to stem infections from the extra-contagious delta variant and help keep kids in school. Both Moderna and J&J’s vaccines can only be used on people 18 and older, though Moderna also is studying its shots in elementary school-aged children.
While children run a lower risk of severe illness or death than older people, COVID-19 has killed more than 630 Americans 18 and under, according to the CDC. Nearly 6.2 million children have been infected with the coronavirus, more than 1.1 million in the last six weeks as the delta variant surged, the American Academy of Pediatrics says.
Doctors at Advocate Children’s Hospital said last week that while cases in children tend to be less severe than those seen in adults, “more children are being hospitalized with severe COVID-19 infection than was seen earlier in the pandemic.”
The group also warned that multiple cases of a life-threatening COVID-19-related condition called the pediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome have been reported in the Chicago area and experts still don’t know the long-term effects of COVID-19 on kids.
The Biden administration has purchased enough kid-size doses — in special orange-capped vials to distinguish them from adult vaccine — for the nation’s 5- to 11-year-olds. If the vaccine is cleared, millions of doses will be promptly shipped around the country, along with kid-size needles.
More than 25,000 pediatricians and primary care providers already have signed up to get the shots into little arms.
Pfizer and Moderna are studying vaccinations in even younger tots as well, down to 6-month-olds. Results are expected later in the year.