SILVER SPRING, Maryland (CBSDFW.COM/CNN) – The Food and Drug Administration has expanded the emergency use of Pfizer’s COVID vaccine boosters to include healthy children as young as 12.

The agency also shortened the time needed before receiving a booster shot from at least six months after completion of the initial series to at least five months, for everyone 12 and older.

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Texas is averaging about 12,000 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 per day over the past week, which is the highest since last September when the surge caused by the delta variant was tapering off.

“Throughout the pandemic, as the virus that causes COVID-19 has continuously evolved, the need for the FDA to quickly adapt has meant using the best available science to make informed decisions with the health and safety of the American public in mind,” FDA Acting Commissioner Dr. Janet Woodcock said in a statement. “With the current wave of the omicron variant, it’s critical that we continue to take effective, life-saving preventative measures such as primary vaccination and boosters, mask wearing and social distancing to in order to effectively fight COVID-19.”

Pfizer’s booster dose contains the same amount of the vaccine as the initial doses: 30 micrograms.

Adolescents ages 12 to 15 became eligible to receive their initial series of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in mid-May, opening vaccinations up to about 17 million additional people.

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Now, about half of the 12 to 15 population — about 8.7 million — is fully vaccinated, according to data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 5 million of them have been fully vaccinated for more than five months and are now eligible to receive a booster shot.

Children in this age group represent about 5% of the total US population. They account for about 4% of the fully vaccinated population in the US and about 3% of those eligible to receive a booster shot, according to the latest CDC data.

In October, the CDC recommended that everyone age 16 and up who completed their initial series of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine at least six months ago receive a booster shot, along with those who received their initial Johnson & Johnson shot at least two months ago.

The FDA also authorized a third dose as part of the primary series for certain immunocompromised children ages 5 to 11, including those who have received an organ transplant.

Overall, about 68.8 million people are fully vaccinated and boosted against COVID-19. That’s less than half of the nearly 180 million people who are eligible to receive their booster shot and about a fifth of the total US population. And at least 69 million people ages 5 and up have not received their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine, according to the latest CDC data.

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CBSDFW.com Staff