COLUMBIA - The US Food and Drug Administration authorized the Pfizer vaccine for people between the ages of 12 and 15 on Monday.
This expands the existing Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) to cover an additional 17 million people nationwide. People in this age group make up 5% of the nation's population.
The next step will likely come on Wednesday. The CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices will meet to advise the CDC director on recommending use of the vaccine.
Once the CDC recommends the vaccine, it can be administered to this new age group.
Shannon Crist is a mother of three from Moberly. She says her family is excited about the announcement.
"My husband and I, and our 18-year-old, have all been vaccinated, so we've just been waiting for our 12 and 15-year-old daughters to be able to get it," she said.
She hopes it will help her family return to normal.
"For us, it's the right thing. We want to do fun things. We want to feel safe, knowing that we have that added protection so we can continue to move on," she said.
Boone Health is offering vaccination appointments for anyone over the age of 12 later this week. Appointments are available at the Columbia Mall all day Thursday and Saturday morning. Those under 18 must have a parent or guardian present.
MU Health Care will offer vaccines for those 12 and older on May 20. Family medicine physician Dr. Laura Morris hopes the vaccine will help kids get back to normal.
"They play a valuable role in making sure that we can return to normal schooling, that your children can have a normal social experience this summer, that they can play sports and go to camp and see friends," she said.
Columbia Public Schools also held vaccination clinics in its high schools last week. Superintendent Peter Stiepleman has said the district will work to adapt to this announcement.
"We are thrilled that today (Monday), it was announced that we can begin vaccinating children older than twelve. And so we will begin working on scheduling clinics at our high schools, as well as our middle schools," he said.
The Cole County Health Department said it is waiting on guidance from the state before vaccinating younger people.
"We also want to make sure the Vaccine Navigator system will allow these individuals to register and how parental consent will be noted," Director Kristi Campbell wrote in a statement.
The Pfizer vaccine had already been authorized for people ages 16 and 17. The Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are authorized for those 18 and up.