OLYMPIA — More than 129,000 children ages 5 through 11 in Washington state have received their first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech pediatric vaccine since eligibility expanded to include younger kids on Nov. 3, health officials said Thursday.

“While COVID-19 is often milder in children than adults, children can still get very sick and spread the disease to family and friends, which is an even bigger concern as people gather this holiday season,” said Dr. Umair A. Shah, state health secretary. “As a father, knowing our children are vaccinated helps me breathe a sigh of relief.”

Getting children vaccinated against COVID-19 can help lower their risk of infection, reduce their chance of getting seriously ill, and decrease their chance of hospitalization and death, according to health officials.

While current overall vaccination numbers are encouraging, pediatric vaccination rates range from nearly 26% in Puget Sound to less than 8% in the South Central and North Central regions.

More on the COVID-19 pandemic

Since the beginning of the pandemic, 13 children and teens age 18 and younger in Washington have died of COVID-19, officials said.

Everyone age 5 and older is eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.