EL PASO, Texas (KVIA) -- El Paso City/County Health Authority Dr. Hector Ocaranza said Tuesday that local health leaders are waiting on getting approval from the State of Texas before they will begin to administer the Pfizer vaccine to 12-15 year olds.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration expanded emergency use authorization of the Pfizer vaccine to include this age group on Monday.
Ocaranza said the Centers for Disease Control's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices needs to review Pfizer's trial data and make an official recommendation to use the vaccine for this age group. This committee is set to meet on Wednesday, and is expected to recommend the shot for young teens. Once that happens, Texas can give the green light to local providers.
“Now we’re going to be able to expand the protection to a wider group of our residents,” Ocaranza said.
Ocaranza, who is a pediatrician, said he strongly recommends that parents immunize their kids.
"It’s going to be helping us move forward to reach herd immunity," he said. "I also see this as a great opportunity for those parents who haven’t received the vaccine."
As of Tuesday morning, more than 48% of eligible El Pasoans (not including 12-15 year olds) had been fully vaccinated.
A spokeswoman for the City of El Paso said that the 12-15 age group will be able to get the vaccine at any of the city's vaccination sites or pop-up events, where appointments are not necessary, once it is 'green lighted.'
Starting Tuesday, parents can also go to EPCovidVaccine.com and register their young teens for future appointments.
Ocaranza said the shots are safe for this age group: "Young kids have the same side effects as adults," he said. "In most cases, kids tolerate the vaccine better than adults."
Again, for more information on where you can get the vaccine, click here.