SPRINGFIELD — Illinois is not mandating K-12 students receive the COVID-19 vaccine before the fall, the Illinois Department of Public Health said.
While three different vaccines have been authorized for emergency use in the U.S., only one, Pfizer-BioNTech, has been authorized for anyone under the age of 18. Children ages 12 and up are eligible for the Pfizer vaccine, and clinical studies for younger children are underway for the Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson shots.
Non-public schools may choose to require vaccination, IDPH Public Information Officer Melaney Arnold said in an email.
IDPH anticipates the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will release additional guidance in early July, which IDPH will follow, Arnold said. IDPH and the Illinois State Board of Education are working to update school guidance as well.
While IDPH plans to follow CDC guidance, the CDC does not set vaccine requirements for schools or childcare facilities, nor do individual public school districts — states do.
Illinois required 10 vaccines for childcare facilities or schools in the fall of 2020: Diphtheria-Tetanus-Pertussis, Polio, Measles, Rubella, Mumps, Haemophilus Influenzae Type B, Invasive Pneumococcal Disease, Hepatitis B, Varicella and Meningococcal Disease. Many of these vaccines are given to babies and toddlers, before they are ever enrolled in school.
While the Pfizer vaccine has been approved for children as young as 12 for nearly two months, vaccination rates remain low compared to other age groups. In Illinois, 169,787 children between 12 and 15 are fully vaccinated against COVID, according to IDPH.
There are approximately 600,000 children that age in Illinois, based on of school enrollment data for fall 2020, putting the vaccine rate for 12-15 year olds below one in three. For the entire state population ages 12 and over, 56% are fully vaccinated.
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