[Story Developing] Vaccine and health care providers in Massachusetts are poised to begin administering Pfizer vaccines to the roughly 400,000 Bay State residents between the ages of 12 and 15 as soon as Thursday pending the go-ahead from federal authorities, Gov. Charlie Baker said Wednesday.

Baker on Wednesday also signaled that plans are in the works for a program to allow Massachusetts employers to book or host vaccine clinics for their workers.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Monday expanded its emergency use authorization for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to include 12-, 13-, 14- and 15-year-olds, and a Centers for Disease Control advisory committee will take up the topic on Wednesday.

After touring a Norwood facility for fellow vaccine manufacturing company Moderna — which is also testing its COVID-19 vaccine in children below the age of 16 but has not yet received federal approval for use in younger populations — Baker said Pfizer shots for teenagers could begin within a day.

"Pending the CDC's approval for this group, people aged 12 to 15 will be able to book appointments or access walk-up appointments beginning Thursday, May 13," Baker said.

About 400,000 people are in the newly authorized age group, Baker said.

The administration has been reaching out to pediatricians to ensure they play a role in providing shots to those between the ages of 12 and 15, and Baker encouraged parents to reach out to their primary care physicians with any questions about COVID-19 vaccines for teenagers.

Massachusetts on Tuesday surpassed 3 million people ages 16 and older who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Rolling out the immunization to younger teens is widely seen as the next key step in the state's fight against the pandemic and a major boost to efforts to bring students back to in-person learning.

~ Chris Lisinski/SHNS

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