two kids with bandaids after getting their vaccines
Oregon kids 12 and older are now eligible for a booster shot. Portland Public Schools

Youth ages 12 to 15 are eligible to receive a Pfizer booster shot five months after completing their initial vaccine series, Oregon’s immunization advisory board announced Thursday. The board also authorized a third vaccine dose of Pfizer or Moderna for immunocompromised children 5 to 11 years old.

The Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup, a panel of experts that guides Oregon’s immunization decisions, approved the expanded eligibility Thursday morning following the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) recommendations on Wednesday.

"Vaccines and boosters are critical tools in our fight against COVID-19, Omicron, and future variants,” Governor Kate Brown said in a press release. “It's normal to have questions about vaccines—please, reach out to your family health care provider to get your questions answered, and find a vaccine or booster appointment near you today."

The decision comes as the Omicron variant is causing a surge of cases throughout the nation. Oregon broke single-day COVID-19 case records four consecutive days in a row this week, reporting 6,203 cases on January 5. Omicron has quickly become the dominant COVID variant in the state and is forecast to cause a peak of 1,200 hospitalizations in early February, according to modeling from the Oregon Health & Science University. Oregonians under the age of 18 currently make up less than 2 percent of COVID hospitalizations in the state.

While the state has enough vaccine supply for the expanded booster eligibility, limited healthcare staff has made scheduling a booster shot appointment difficult in populous areas of the state like Portland. Parents are encouraged to reach out to their healthcare provider to schedule a vaccine appointment. Multnomah County also maintains a list of recurring community vaccine clinics in the region.