For recipients of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine, the wait time for getting a booster shot has just been cut down from six months to five months. 

On Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated its guidance to vaccine recipients to include the shorter wait time between second and third shots of the Pfizer vaccine. The agency's director, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, said that the decision will allow more Americans to get their booster sooner as a means to resist the Omicron variant as it quickly begins to dominate case numbers in the U.S.

“Today’s recommendations ensure people are able to get a boost of protection in the face of Omicron and increasing cases across the country, and ensure that the most vulnerable children can get an additional dose to optimize protection against COVID-19,” Walensky said in a statement that announced the decision.

The CDC’s recommendation comes one day after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) made several identical decisions. Like the CDC, the FDA recommended that the waiting period between the second and third doses of the Pfizer vaccine be cut down to five months as well as a recommendation that children ages 5 to 11 receive a booster if they have a compromised immune system. 

A similar decision on boosters for younger children was included in the CDC’s updated guidance, but it did not follow the FDA’s move to recommend boosters for teens aged 12 to 15. Instead, the agency has an advisory council meeting scheduled for Wednesday to consider the move. 

With the Omicron variant of COVID-19 on the upswing across the country, finding new and more flexible measures to battle the virus has taken on added urgency. 

The winter was predicted to be a difficult season between the cold weather, holiday gatherings that reduced social distancing and the arrival of Omicron. With the opening of a new school semester as well as rising hospitalizations, states and cities are calling for more to be done to help contain the case numbers.