Lifestyle Health FDA Authorizes COVID Vaccine Booster Shots for Kids Aged 12 to 15 as Pediatric Cases Soar The CDC is expected to give the final approval on Wednesday By Julie Mazziotta Julie Mazziotta Twitter Julie Mazziotta is the Sports Editor at PEOPLE, covering everything from the NFL to tennis to Simone Biles and Tom Brady. She was previously an Associate Editor for the Health vertical for six years, and prior to joining PEOPLE worked at Health Magazine. When not covering professional athletes, Julie spends her time as a (very) amateur athlete, training for marathons, long bike trips and hikes. People Editorial Guidelines Published on January 3, 2022 12:09 PM Share Tweet Pin Email A child getting vaccinated. Photo: Getty The Food and Drug Administration has authorized COVID-19 vaccine booster shots for kids aged 12 to 15 years old, they announced Monday, as pediatric cases soar and children head back to school after the holidays. Kids in that age group who received their second dose of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine at least five months ago (a shorter time span than the six months the FDA previously recommended for those 16 and up) would be eligible to receive a booster. The FDA also approved booster shots for kids aged 5 to 11 who are immunocompromised. The decisions still need to be cleared by the Centers for Disease Control. An outside panel of vaccine experts are set to meet Wednesday to discuss the booster shot changes and are expected to agree with the FDA's plan. CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky will likely then sign off on the panel's suggestions by the end of the day. CDC Reports That COVID Vaccines Are Safe For Children, 'Serious' Side Effects 'Rarely Reported' The updated booster shot recommendations come as the highly-contagious omicron variant rockets through the U.S., causing a rapid rise in cases, particularly among kids. In the week ending on Dec. 23, nearly 199,000 child COVID-19 cases were reported nationwide, an increase of 50% since the start of the month, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. For more on what you need to know about the spike in COVID cases, listen below to our daily podcast on PEOPLE Every Day. U.S. children are also being hospitalized for COVID-19 in record numbers. Between Dec. 22 and 28, an average of 378 kids a day were admitted to hospitals, an increase of 66% compared to the week before, the CDC said. Doctors are reporting, though, that all of the kids they're seeing at hospitals are unvaccinated. Dr. Albert Ko from the Yale School of Public Health told ABC News that none of the kids at his hospital were vaccinated. RELATED VIDEO: These Celebrities Are Getting the COVID-19 Vaccine to Protect Themselves and Others Around 20% of kids aged 5 to 11 have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine since they were approved in early November, according to the CDC. On Thursday, the CDC released three studies confirming that Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine — the only one currently approved for use in the age group — is entirely safe for kids aged 5 to 11, and "serious adverse effects" like myocarditis, a form of heart inflammation, "were rarely reported." CDC Says All Individuals Should Avoid Cruise Ship Travel 'Regardless of Vaccination Status' One of the studies also found that Pfizer's vaccine was 92% effective in preventing COVID-19 illness in those 12 to 17 years old, and a third study reported that nearly all children ages 5 to 17 hospitalized with COVID-19 in July and August 2021 — more than 99% — were unvaccinated. As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from the CDC, WHO and local public health departments. PEOPLE has partnered with GoFundMe to raise money for the COVID-19 Relief Fund, a GoFundMe.org fundraiser to support everything from frontline responders to families in need, as well as organizations helping communities. For more information or to donate, click here.