By Tori Mason

DENVER (CBS4) – Younger teens and adolescents are a step closer to protection against COVID-19. The Food and Drug Administration authorized the use of Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine on people ages 12 to 15.

If the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices approves, this age group could begin receiving the vaccine by the end of the week.

“As soon as the CDC makes the call, we’ll flip the switch and the 12 and 15 year olds will become part of that eligible group,” said Dr. Steven Federico at Denver Health. “By Thursday, presumably, clinicians will be able to start vaccinating or systems will start opening up for appointments.”

(credit: CBS)

Federico says he’s been refreshing his browser every day for the last two weeks, waiting for this announcement. He has three kids between the ages of 12 and 15. As a pediatrician and a parent, he’s thrilled their age group will have protection against COVID.

“School might be the biggest reason for this age group to get vaccinated. It’s going to allow school to look a lot more normal. The state has new guidance that if you are fully vaccinated, and you’re exposed to COVID, you don’t have to go into quarantine. That’s been a major disruption for schools,” said Federico.

In April, CDPHE said the most rapid increase in cases is among children, especially middle and high school students.

Gov. Jared Polis released a statement Monday in response to the FDA’s decision:

“I am thrilled that, thanks to the FDA’s decision, all Coloradans ages 12-15 are one step closer to being eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. For younger Coloradans, this doesn’t just mean getting much-needed protection from this disease, it also means even safer classrooms and after-school activities, the opportunity to visit with friends and family without guilt, and the chance to get closer to life as we knew it. This last year hasn’t been easy for Colorado students, and I’m glad to see that even more will now be able to live without fear as they head into the summer and this next school year. We are hopeful that final approval will be granted as soon as Wednesday and 12-15 year olds can start getting protected by the end of this week.”

Once the CDC makes the call, about 20,000 more people will become vaccine eligible in Denver. So far, only the Pfizer vaccine is authorized for this age group. Federico says the typical side effects are the same, regardless of age, and it’s absolutely safe.

“There does seem to be an association where younger people experience the side effects less, but it’s not uniform. Some people who are young still experience some of the side effects, but again, the side effects in the vaccine are really quite rare,” said Federico.

He says parents should look to their child’s primary care doctor or providers like Denver Health and Children’s Hospital to set up an appointment. He believes Denver Public Schools will also be an option come Saturday.

MORE NEWS: Pfizer Vaccine Information

“I’m expecting to see 12 through 15 year olds at our school vaccination clinics this weekend,” said Federico. “It’s incredibly important for students to get vaccinated. I hope they’ll come out and do it early, so we can plan for school in a safe way.”

Tori Mason