Sharon Robinson.

With the first COVID vaccination clinics for children ages 5-11 just a few days away, Evanston/Skokie School District 65 plans to add additional sessions if they are needed.

On a community webinar Monday evening, superintendent Devon Horton said “if demand exceeds availability, additional clinics will be scheduled.”

The district, in cooperation with the City of Evanston, is holding a Pfizer vaccine clinic for those ages 5-11, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, at the Joseph E. Hill Education Center on McDaniel Avenue. Advance registration is required online. The session will be open to District 65 students, whether they live in Evanston or Skokie.

A separate vaccination clinic just for students who attend schools in Skokie is being held by the Village of Skokie on the same day. Registration information for that event is available here.

Clinics for the second of the two-dose vaccination will be held Dec. 4.

District 65 says “there are a limited number of appointments and it is likely that demand will exceed supply. Additional clinics will be scheduled ….”

The district also notes that COVID shots are available at doctors’ offices and at many pharmacies.

The Pfizer vaccine was recently given federal approval for the younger age group. Vaccines had been limited to ages 12 and above for the Pfizer shots. Moderna and Johnson and Johnson vaccinations are still restricted to those 18 and above.

During the webinar, Dr. Sharon Robinson, an Evanston pediatrician with NorthShore Community HealthSystem, and a member of the District 65 medical advisory board, stressed that vaccination is safe and effective for adults, older teens, and now for children 5-11.

“The more people who get vaccinated, the faster we can get back to our normal lives,” Robinson said.

She added that serious side effects for any age group are very rare, and the risk of becoming ill from COVID-19 is far greater than any risk of getting vaccinated.

Robinson also spent part of the webinar debunking myths about the COVID vaccinations, many of which emanate from social media sites or cable tv commentators.

“Never in my career have I seen such misinformation spread in such a powerful way,” she said.

Robinson offered the following information regarding various claims about the disease and vaccines:

  • The vaccines will not cause infertility. Robinson called that a “baseless claim.”
  • Individuals will not have to disclose immigration status in order to get a shot.
  • Children can indeed get sick from COVID. As of Oct. 28, Robinson said, nearly 6.4 million children have tested positive for the virus.
  • Children can transmit COVID to adults.
  • Myocarditis (inflammation of the muscle around the heart), which has been seen in a small number of vaccinated older teenage boys, is also exceedingly rare. Someone with myocarditis is “far, far” more likely to get it from COVID-19 than from being vaccinated.

District officials said they expect to notify family members Tuesday (Nov. 9) about clinic hours on Saturday, how to register, and also about the Skokie location.

With addition of shots for children ages 5-11, nearly all of District 65’s K-8 students will now be eligible for vaccines. Previous 12-and-up restrictions basically limited shots to middle schoolers at District 65.

One of Robinson’s daughters is in the older teen group and has been vaccinated already. Robinson hopes other parents and guardians are as eager to get COVID shots for their kids as she was.

“The relief I felt when my younger daughter got the vaccine,” Robinson said, “was greater than when I got the vaccine.”

Jeff Hirsh joined the Evanston Now reporting team in 2020 after a 40-year award-winning career as a broadcast journalist in Cincinnati, Ohio.