FILE - Virus Outbreak Illinois

A COVID-19 vaccination clinic is hosted by Jewel Osco at London Middle School in Wheeling, Ill., Friday, June 11, 2021. 

(The Center Square) – Even though a COVID-19 vaccine is available for children aged 5 to 11, some parents are hesitant to get their kids the shot.

The Food and Drug Administration authorization of a vaccine makes 28 million unvaccinated young children in the country suddenly eligible, with 1.1 million in Illinois. In announcing its authorization of a lower-dose shot made by Pfizer and BioNTech for the age group, the FDA said clinical trial data showed the shot was safe and prompted strong immune responses in children.

A new study by Nick VinZant at QuoteWizard reveals multiple reasons why some parents are saying no.

“The main reasons that we found nationwide and in Illinois are people are concerned about the side effects, they’re waiting to see if the vaccine is safe, they don’t believe that their child needs to get vaccinated, they don’t trust the government, or they simply don’t vaccinate their children period,” VinZant said.

The study found the highest percentage of Illinois parents were worried about side effects from the vaccine, but the mood is changing.

“Initially, 82% of people who said they weren’t going to vaccinate their children said they were concerned about the side effects and that was the reason why,” VinZant said. “That number has now dropped to 56%.”

Dr. Kerry Lockhart from the Rush University Medical Group said concerns about the vaccine affecting children’s hearts are unfounded.

“None of the children in the 5 to 11 group showed myocarditis,” Lockhart said. “Where we did see it was in the 12 to 17-year-olds.”

Gov. J.B. Pritzker's office said more than 2,200 providers statewide are already enrolled to provide the vaccine to children, and the state expects to receive 306,000 doses, with 100,000 doses to pharmacies.

The outreach effort will also go directly to schools, Pritzker said.

“We will be reaching out to approximately 750 public school districts that teach elementary-aged students to offer them the opportunity to host parent-approved clinics right on school grounds,” he said.

Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said the department has begun planning vaccination events.

There is a push to get children to roll up their sleeves. The Chicago Public School officials have canceled all classes on Nov. 12 for “Vaccine Awareness Day,” an effort to boost vaccinations among younger students.

Chicago kids ages 5 to 11 are also being offered an incentive to get their vaccinations. When they get their shots at Chicago Public Health events or clinics, the kids are eligible for $100 in gift cards.

Staff Reporter

Kevin Bessler reports on statewide issues in Illinois for the Center Square. He has over 30 years of experience in radio news reporting throughout the Midwest.