PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – The Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup is now recommending Pfizer’s COVID-19 booster vaccine for children ages five to eleven, five months after completing a COVID vaccine series.

The recommendation comes after the booster was authorized for the age group by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

According to the Oregon Health Authority, the booster is now available in the state for children ages five through eleven.

“This is great news for parents and children, who can be confident in the safety of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for kids and the extra protection a booster dose provides,” said Gov. Kate Brown. “Let’s keep working together to keep our friends and families safe. Thank you to the more than 3 million Oregonians who have received a vaccine dose already. I encourage everyone eligible to find a vaccine or booster appointment near you today.”

According to the workgroup, made up of public health and immunization experts who review COVID-19 vaccine data, the benefits of the booster in helping to preventing illness, hospitalization and death outweighed the risks.

The group also called for expanded access to COVID vaccines for the age group to eliminate disparities in vaccinations.

“The decisions this week follow a careful review of evidence by experts at the FDA and CDC, and experts in the Western states pact with Oregon, Washington, California and Nevada,” said Paul Cieslak, medical director for communicable diseases and immunizations at Oregon Health Authority (OHA). “Research has shown vaccines to be safe in this age group. In its recommendation, the FDA had determined that the known and potential benefits of a single booster dose of the Pfizer vaccine for this age group outweighs the known and potential risks and will extend protection against COVID-19.”

After the workgroup’s approval, the Oregon Health Authority is now guiding state vaccine providers on booster policy for children.

“We want to remind all families that the most important step is for children is to get their primary series of vaccines, which can provide significant protection against severe illness,” said Cieslak. “Boosters will benefit vaccinated children who are still at risk for severe disease, and they may help children not to spread it to high-risk adults with whom they have close contact. OHA recommends that families consult their physician or a health care provider if they have questions. For those who do not have a health care provider, please call 211.”

According to OHA, 36.5% of children ages 5 to 11 have completed a COVID vaccine series as of Thursday.

“Earlier this week, the FDA amended the emergency use authorization for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to authorize the booster for children ages 5-11 years of age. The agency also noted more children were sick and hospitalized during the omicron wave.