In the wake of the increasing number of COVID-19 cases, the Food and Drug Administration has increased the Pfizer and BioNTech booster vaccine eligibility to include children twelve to fifteen years of age.

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla stated, “The recent rise in COVID-19 cases is concerning to all, and today’s decision by the FDA to further expand the Emergency Use Authorization of a booster dose of our vaccine is critical to help us ultimately defeat this pandemic.”

As students prepare to return to school after winter break, the United States hopes to get ahead of the surge.

Bourla also said, “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.”

Along with the change of who is eligible for the vaccine, the FDA reduced the time between the initial vaccination and the booster shot from six months to five months. The FDA said data from multiple laboratories shows that the Pfizer booster helps individuals fight off the Omicron variant. Shortening the time between the vaccination and booster can improve the chances of better protection.

There were no new safety concerns from research conducted in Israel on 6,300 children between the ages of twelve and fifteen who obtained the Pfizer booster dose.

Those between the ages of five and eleven with compromised immune systems were approved for a third vaccine dose along with the main series of shots. According to the FDA, the third dose is needed for children to benefit most greatly from the vaccination.

As previously reported by The Dallas Express, the new strain has caused COVID-19 cases to skyrocket to several hundreds of thousands a week.

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, encourages everyone eligible to receive a booster dose. The agency has not yet approved the expanded eligibility to allow children ages twelve to fifteen to receive the booster.