By Anthony Ponce
CHICAGO - Children ages 12 and up are now getting the COVID-19 vaccine.
On Thursday, locations around the Chicago area started administering shots after Pfizer received full FDA approval.
"The moment the vaccine news came on Monday, everybody here jumped with excitement and the kids told me: sign us up!" said Katherine Buitron, who has three children ages 11, 12, and 14.
On Friday, her two oldest will be getting their first doses of the Pfizer vaccine at Lurie Children's Hospital.
"We're feeling very excited. My parents, spouses, sisters, this is the biggest step for us," she said.
Kids as young as 12 began getting the vaccines at Lurie and the University of Chicago, with a couple of them encouraging others to follow suit by holding up signs saying, "The COVID-19 Vaccine is my shot."
At many locations across the Chicago area, you do not need an appointment in advance, but it is recommended.
Also, kids do need to have a parent or guardian's permission in order to receive the vaccine.
"I was very anxious. I was excited. I was happy that everybody older than me was getting the vaccine because obviously that's more important to me that people older than me are getting the vaccine. But now that I can finally get it, it's kind of just a relief," one local girl said.
Health officials say getting the vaccine will certainly allows kids to be able to do more this summer.
"Now that adolescents can get the vaccine, they will be able to more safely return to school, play sports, attend social gatherings, and have joyous events with their friends and family," said Israel Rocha, CEO of Cook County Health.
"If you are 12 to 15, please talk to your parents. Talk to your friends," said Cook County Commissioner Scott Britton. "It is time to get vaccinated so we can all get back to normal."
Doctors credit the vaccine for the majority of progress made against COVID in recent weeks.
"It's no coincidence that as more people become fully vaccinated, cases and hospitalizations are on a downward trend," said Dr. Kiran Joshi of the Cook County Health Department.
Dr. Anthony Fauci said he thinks we will have enough information to approve the vaccine for kids of all ages by the end of the year.
In addition, Chicago is working to get kids the vaccine by bringing it to them. The Chicago Department of Health will be bringing its mobile vaccination clinics to 15 elementary and high schools. It will start this Saturday and go for the next three Saturdays.
You can find more information HERE.