With the Pfizer COVID vaccine now available for children, age 5 to 11, Oak Park Elementary School District 97 and River Forest School District 90 have confirmed dates for a series of vaccine clinics for their eligible students. Last week, the two neighboring districts released a tentative schedule, informing families of their plans to hold some clinics in anticipation of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) approval.

In a partnership with the Oak Park Department of Public Health, D97 was set to host eight vaccine clinics, starting Nov. 9. The clinics — which run until Nov. 12 — will be held from 4:30 to 9 p.m. at eight district elementary schools and are only open to D97 students. A registration link has been sent to families by their respective schools, according to the village of Oak Park’s website.

D97 officials first wanted vaccine clinics at Oak Park and River Forest High School but recently pivoted because of public health officials’ request to offer smaller clinics to accommodate the group’s youngest children, said Jim Hackett, the district’s safety and security manager, and Griff Powell, co-interim superintendent.

“We have a really good plan, but it is kind of new,” Hackett said, adding he has spent the last few weeks working with district and health officials to roll out the series of vaccine clinics.

The public health department will also host an additional clinic on Nov. 13 for Oak Park families with 5- to 11-year-olds who attend private schools or are home-schooled. That clinic will be held from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at Oak Park and River Forest High School. Families interested in signing up for an appointment for the Nov. 13 clinic should email the Oak Park health department at covid19vaccine@oak-park.us.

A full schedule of the clinics, including dates for the second dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, can be found on the village of Oak Park’s website at www.oak-park.us/news/officials-plan-vaccine-clinics-kids.

The COVID-19 vaccine — which is free — is also available for children and adults at many pharmacies, including CVS, Walgreens and Jewel-Osco, as well as through many health-care providers, the village noted. 

In River Forest, D90 has announced its vaccine clinic on Nov. 19 from 3:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Roosevelt Middle School. D90’s clinic is part of yet another initiative with the River Forest Jewel Osco and the village of River Forest. Since the spring, D90 has held several vaccine clinics for seniors, district faculty and staff, and students age 12-15. The upcoming clinic at Roosevelt is only open to children age 5-11 who are either D90 students or live in River Forest.

A registration link for the Nov. 19 vaccine clinic has not been released, according to a memo sent to D90 families last Friday.

As Powell and District 90 Superintendent Ed Condon shared more details about the clinics, they also took a moment to reflect on the latest federal approval to vaccinate 5- to 11-year-olds against COVID-19. Over 900 students at D90 and more than 4,000 students at D97 are eligible to receive the two-dose Pfizer COVID shot. 

“This is the biggest game-changer, having vaccinations available from 5 through 11,” Powell said. “We made some progress when we got the Pfizer approved for 12 to 17, however not as big of a movement at least for the elementary districts.” 

Condon agreed.

“Frankly, the CDC’s approval of the COVID-19 vaccine for younger children is great news, and it represents, I think, significant progress in combating the coronavirus impact on the District 90 school community and broader River Forest community,” he said. “If enough people, including obviously the 5- to 11-year-old children, get vaccinated, we will be much closer to returning to pre-pandemic conditions in so many areas of our lives.”

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