The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) declared that those between the ages of 12 and15 are eligible for a Pfizer-BioNTech booster dose in the latest move to fight the Omicron variant of COVID-19.

On Monday, the FDA announced the approval alongside its decision to reduce the wait time between one’s last dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and a booster shot. Now, rather than wait six months between the shots, the recommended timeframe has been narrowed to at least five months. The agency also approved a third dose of the Pfizer shot for children ages 5 to 11 who have compromised immune systems.

"With the current wave of the Omicron variant, it’s critical that we continue to take effective, life-saving, preventative measures such as primary vaccination and boosters, mask wearing and social distancing in order to effectively fight COVID-19,” said acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock.

Pfizer CEO Alberto Bourla praised the FDA's decision as a critical step toward ending the pandemic. He pointed to the recent rise in COVID-19 cases, largely connected to the Omicron variant that emerged in late November, as proof that more was needed to reduce hospitalizations across the country.

“We continue to believe that broad use of boosters is essential to preserving a high level of protection against this disease and reducing the rate of hospitalizations,” said Bourla.

The approved booster dose for those as young as 12 comes just as a new school semester begins. With the booster shots, schools and families now have another tool in hand, alongside other measures taken, to protect youths this year.