With the expectation that the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine will soon be approved for individuals 12 to 15 years of age, the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley is now offering online pre-registration for those individuals.

UT Health RGV is anticipating the U.S. Food and Drug Administration will approve the vaccine’s use for that age group soon. 

On Tuesday, Pfizer-BioNTech announced that they expected to receive a response from the FDA regarding their application for an expanded Emergency Use Authorization for their COVID-19 vaccine that would include individuals 12 to 15 years of age.

“In preparation of the announcement, UT Health RGV is encouraging parents or legal guardians to pre-register their children at uthealthrgv.org/minor-registration, so that they can be first in line to receive the vaccine once it is approved in the coming days,” university health officials said in a news release that noted all minors must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.

The expansion of vaccines to younger individuals comes as the number of vaccines administered to those 16 and over has dipped in recent weeks throughout the Rio Grande Valley and the state.

On the other hand, the number of new COVID-19 cases, deaths and hospitalizations in the RGV remain relatively low, though they still continue to fluctuate.

In Hidalgo County, there were two more deaths due to COVID-19-related complications and 176 more people tested positive for COVID-19, according to a news release the county issued Friday.

The two deceased county residents include a McAllen woman in her 50s and an Edinburg woman over 70 years old, according to a news release issued by the county. Their deaths raise the county’s total number of COVID-19 fatalities to 2,834 since the start of the pandemic.

Of the 176 cases reported Friday, 93 are confirmed, 52 are probable and 31 are suspect.

The county now has a total of 58,777 confirmed cases, 28,863 probable cases, and 1,683 suspected cases. Currently, 1,347 cases are considered active

Additionally, the county reported there were 124 COVID-19 patients at hospitals, with 46 of those patients receiving treatment in an intensive care unit.

Cameron County health officials reported a single COVID-related death, a Harlingen man in his 50s, bringing the total number of deaths there to 1,637 since the start of the pandemic.

Cameron County also reported 33 new confirmed cases among their residents and 16 new cases within unaccompanied minor shelters and detention centers. Those 49 new cases raise Cameron County’s total number of confirmed cases to 40,630. Of those, 2,877 are currently active.

There was also one new confirmed case in Starr County and five confirmed cases in Willacy County, according to data collected by the Texas Department of State Health Services. The vaccine registration form for those 12 to 15 years old can be found at https://uthealthrgv.org/minor-registration/.