AUSTIN (KXAN) — The COVID-19 vaccination won’t be included in the list of mandatory vaccines Texas students must get to attend school, according to the Texas Department of State Health Service associate commissioner Imelda Garcia.

DSHS held a news conference Thursday on the heels of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine’s emergency approval for use in children ages 12-15. The group provided an update on how it will dole out the vaccine moving forward.

Garcia is the chairperson of the COVID-19 expert vaccine allocation panel and associate commissioner for laboratory and infectious disease services for DSHS. She led the news conference.

Despite the COVID-19 vaccine not being mandatory for students, health experts are recommending anyone who can get the vaccine to do so.

Austin Public Health officials urged parents to get their kids vaccinated against the disease caused by the novel coronavirus as soon as possible as cases in school-aged children are rising. Area school districts are contacting parents, working with local health departments and modifying pop-up clinics to give shots to eligible students once vaccines are available.

Dr. Mark Escott, Austin’s chief medical officer, said COVID-19 hospitalizations in the 10-19 age group are currently the highest they’ve ever been during the pandemic. On Monday, he said eight children in the age group were hospitalized, including a 3-year-old.

Garcia said nearly 20 million vaccine doses have been given in Texas. More than 9 million of Texans aged 16 and older are fully vaccinated, about 40% of the population. Nearly 12 million Texans 16 and older have received at least one shot, around 52% of the population.