HOUSTON COUNTY, Ala. (WDHN) — On Monday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration expanded booster eligibility for the Pfizer vaccine to children 12 to 15.

The FDA also shortened the time needed before receiving a booster shot, from six months to five for everyone 12- and older. The agency said the rapid rise in cases across the country made it clear that the benefits of expanding the booster eligibility clearly outweighed the risk.

On top of COVID-19 cases, Dr. Mark Strassburg a Pediatrician at Dothan Pediatric Clinic tells WDHN that the Wiregrass is also seeing an increase of cold and flu viruses in children.

“This is the time of year you’re going to see more sick people so your chances of picking up something are much higher than is the typical year for us,” Dr. Strassburg said. “We expect we are going to be busy as soon as Christmas vacation is over.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still must sign off on the authorization. In October, the agency recommended that everyone age 16 and up get a COVID-19 booster.

At this time, medical experts are stressing the importance of parents getting their children who are eligible vaccinated and boosted to not only protect their children against the virus but keep COVID-19 cases as low as possible in the schools and the community.