Lydia Melo, 7, is inoculated with one of two reduced doses of the Pfizer BioNtech COVID-19 vaccine during a trial at Duke University in Durham, N.C., September 28, 2021. (Shawn Rocco/Duke University/Handout via Reuters)

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended use of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine for children ages five to eleven on Tuesday.

The endorsement could allow vaccinations for children as early as this week. Children in this age group will receive two shots three weeks apart, with about one-third the dosage given to adults.

Children are at significantly lower risk for severe cases of COVID-19 than adults, but the lack of vaccine eligibility has led many localities to insist that they mask in schools.

“Together, with science leading the charge, we have taken another important step forward in our nation’s fight against the virus that causes Covid-19,” CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said in a statement.

“As a mom, I encourage parents with questions to talk to their pediatrician, school nurse or local pharmacist to learn more about the vaccine and the importance of getting their children vaccinated,” Walensky added.

The recommendation comes after a CDC advisory panel voted 14-0 to recommend administering the Pfizer vaccine to children.

“We have excellent evidence of efficacy and safety,” panel member Beth Bell, professor at the School of Public Health at the University of Washington, told the Wall Street Journal. “We have a favorable risk-benefit analysis. We have many parents out there who are really clamoring and want to have their children vaccinated.”

The Food and Drug Administration authorized use of the Pfizer vaccine for children last week.

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