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Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

About 17 million teens aged 12 to 15 will be now eligible for the Pfizer COVID vaccine in the coming days — if health officials can get parents on board.

By the numbers: Parents are split nearly 50-50 on whether they will allow their children to get vaccinated as soon as possible, according to Axios/Ipsos data.

Why it matters: "We will need parent buy-in," said Donna Hallas, a pediatric nurse practitioner and director of the pediatric nurse practitioner program at the NYU College of Nursing. "If they’re hesitant people or refusers for previous vaccines, this is a really tough job that health care providers need to address."

The state of play: Teen eligibility could help bolster overall vaccination rates, especially as vaccinations slow in some parts of the country, a Kaiser Family Foundation analysis shows.

  • Adolescents account for 5.3% of the U.S. population.
  • Some states, businesses and school districts see the younger population as a way to meet the thresholds for reopening.

Yes, but: Experts hope that as more parents see the children of their friends and family get vaccinated, their hesitancy may shift — just as it did with some adults when the vaccine first became available.

Editor's note: This piece was corrected to show Donna Hallas is a pediatric nurse practitioner.

Go deeper

Aug 18, 2021 - Health

Biden administration unveils plan for vaccine boosters starting in September

Photo: Md Niamul Hossain Rifat/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

The Biden administration's top health officials announced Wednesday that beginning the week of Sept. 20, Americans who received a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine should expect to be offered a booster shot eight months after their second dose.

Why it matters: The decision reflects a desire by the administration to get ahead of declining vaccine effectiveness, as the highly contagious Delta variant drives a new surge in infections across the country.

Biden directs Education Department to discourage states from banning masks

Education Secretary Miguel Cardona. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

The Biden administration will use the Department of Education's civil rights office to discourage states from banning mask mandates in schools, Education Secretary Miguel Cardona told the New York Times on Wednesday.

Why it matters: Several states have prohibited mask requirements from being implemented in schools, even as coronavirus cases continue to increase across the U.S. due to the Delta variant.

Tens of thousands of U.S. students quarantining or isolating due to COVID

A staff member performs temperature checks on students as they arrive on the first day of classes in Orlando, Fla. Photo: Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The school year has just started, and already tens of thousands of students and school staff members across the U.S. are isolating or quarantining after testing positive or possibly being exposed to COVID-19, school districts and other officials said this week.

Why it matters: The announcements come as health officials report an alarming number of children hospitalized with COVID-19 and amid tense debates over whether masks should be mandated for students and teachers.