Children between ages 12 and 15 are already receiving the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in the Charlottesville-area.

The effort began Thursday, after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday greenlit the vaccine for the younger age group. The Food and Drug Administration gave its approval Monday.

By Thursday afternoon, the Blue Ridge Health District had already seen appointments and walk-ins at its COVID-19 Vaccination Center from the new age group.

“There’s a lot of ways individuals can get their children vaccinated,” said Ryan McKay, the COVID-19 incident commander at the Blue Ridge Health District.

The health district is accepting people at its vaccination center in the old JCPenney store at 1600 E. Rio Road.

Pharmacies throughout the area are also giving out shots. (Find pharmacies with Pfizer vaccines at vaccinefinder.org.)

And some primary care physicians and pediatricians are now administering vaccines to their patients.

“This is sort of the next phase in providing greater access to larger populations of the community, and a really critical one, too,” McKay said. “We’re going to provide a level of protection for those individuals that can allow schools to operate a little more safely … and then obviously bring more students for more traditional in-person education.