The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has authorized use of COVID-19 vaccine booster shots for kids between the ages of 12 and 15.
The FDA said Monday it had amended its emergency use authorization of the Pfizer-BioNTech booster shot to include the younger children.
In statement, the FDA said the agency has also shortened the waiting period between the primary two-shot vaccination and all booster shots from six to five months.
The agency said it was taking the move to help provide better protection against both the delta and omicron variants of the virus that causes COVID-19. The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is the only one currently authorized for children under 18 by the FDA.
The FDA also on Monday authorized a third vaccine dose for certain immunocompromised children 5 through 11 years of age.
It said the potential effectiveness of an additional dose in children five through 11 years of age was extrapolated from data it had gathered from use in adults.
The new authorizations come as many U.S. school-age children returned to classes Monday following the holiday break.
But before the changes can take effect, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention must sign off on them. CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky is expected to rule on the new authorizations later this week.
Some information for this report came from The Associated Press, Reuters, and Agence France-Presse.