kids shots

Ruby Crull, 6, of Champaign gets a hug from mom Abby as nurse Tracy Brooks gets ready to give her a COVID-19 vaccine shot during a clinic for children 5 to 11 on Nov. 5 at the I Hotel in Champaign.

CHAMPAIGN — Parents anxiously waiting to get their young children vaccinated for COVID-19 may not have to wait much longer.

With federal authorities set to consider approval of a vaccine for kids between ages 6 months and 5 next week, the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District has pre-ordered doses and made arrangements for mass vaccination clinics for this age group starting later this month, pending final authorization from the Food and Drug Administration and approval from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Health district Deputy Administrator Awais Vaid said many parents have been asking about when vaccine for this age group will be available.

“We do anticipate at least a very high demand,” he said.

The health district has tentatively scheduled vaccine clinics for babies, toddlers and preschoolers for June 27-28 at the I Hotel and Conference Center, 1900 S. First S., C, Vaid said.

“Everything will be confirmed once CDC approves and we have vaccine on hand,” he said. “But it looks promising.”

An FDA advisory committee is set to meet June 15 to discuss an emergency-use authorization of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to make the primary series available to infants and children 6 months through 5 years and to extend the emergency-use authorization of the Pfizer.BioNTech vaccine to include the primary series for children 6 months through 4 years.

Once the FDA signs off on one or both vaccines for babies through preschoolers, the CDC is expected to quickly follow suit.

While parents may be anxiously awaiting a chance to get the primary vaccine series for their younger children, booster shots for kids 5-11 weren’t big sellers in Champaign County, according to Vaid.

Just about 20 percent of Champaign County kids in that age group have gotten the booster shots, he said.

That, and the fact that second booster shots haven’t yet been authorized for those under 50 without certain health conditions, are likely behind a rising percentage of cases among the fully vaccinated in Champaign County, Vaid said.

Since the start of this year, nearly 49 percent of Champaign County’s new cases have been in fully vaccinated people, and since February, fully vaccinated people have accounted for 60.6 percent of total new cases.

That higher number reflects waning immunity from first booster shots, along with the fact that variants continue to change, Vaid said.

“The more changes in variants you see, the more likely the person who is vaccinated will be exposed,” he said.

For the week of May 29 through June 4, 62.2 percent of new cases across the U.S. were the omicron BA.2.12.1 subvariant; 24.8 percent were the omicron BA.2 subvariant, and omicron subvariant newcomers BA.4 and BA.5 were accounting for 13 percent of new cases across the country.

Despite the seemingly endless number of new variants popping up, there have been some hopeful signs.

One is that the numbers of new deaths in the county have been declining due to availability and effectiveness of treatments, Vaid said.

The county’s latest death, announced June 2, was its first since April 19.

Vaid said the number of hospitalizations has largely remained between five and 15 on most days since May 1, so the general population becoming infected with COVID-19, in theory, will be fine.

“For people who are high-risk, you still have to be extra-cautious, because we are still living through the pandemic,” he said.

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