Dozens of Chicago Public School students get vaccinated on 'Vaccine Awareness Day'

Chicago Public School kids got the day off Friday in an effort to push getting their coronavirus vaccine.

Earlier in the day, there were lines out the door at Mitchell Elementary School on the Near West Side.

The city is putting on an all-out push to vaccinate students between five and 11-years-old who just became eligible for Pfizer’s vaccine last week.

FOX 32 watched as 11-year-old Jacob Villasenor got his vaccination shot in the afternoon at Orr High School, which is one of seven Chicago Public Schools and six community clinics that were offering shots during the day.

"Yeah I'm glad [I got the shot]," Villasenor said, adding he did it because he wants to stop COVID-19 "once and for all" and to help the people who are sick.

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CPS closed all schools and declared the day "Vaccine Awareness Day."

Chicago also offered city employees two hours of paid time off to get a shot for their kids or themselves.

Many of the vaccine locations were in minority communities, where vaccination rates continue to lag behind the general population.

Chicago Public Schools CEO Pedro Martinez says they're pleased with turnout on Friday and they plan to crunch the numbers after the weekend to see whether rates have improved among students in those minority communities.

"The ones who didn't, then it allows us to have a conversation. To actually talk to those families, we can have school information events, we can partner with our providers. So we want to use that data to be very strategic," Martinez said.

City health leaders said the early evidence shows young kids are doing even better with the shots than adults, with fewer side effects.

"As you heard, this dose is one-third the dose that adults get," said Chicago Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady. "We have not had any issues with side effects, anything unexpected."

A pediatric nurse said that unlike most shots, when kids cry or scream, children seem to be looking forward to getting the COVID vaccine.

"We have kids that normally give us a hard time who are excited, who are rolling up their sleeves, who seem to know that this is what they’ve been waiting for," said pediatric nurse Marissa Gonzalez.