Canada has become the first country to approve the use of the Pfizer Inc.-BioNTech SE COVID-19 vaccine for adolescents as young as 12.

The shot was initially approved in December for those 16 and older. The decision by the country’s public-health officials comes ahead of a similar clearance that is expected soon from regulators in the U.S. It allows Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government to expand its vaccination campaign to adolescents.

Canada’s inoculation effort has lagged its peers in the Group of Seven. The nation has administered at least one dose to 29.7 per cent of its population, according to the Bloomberg Vaccine Tracker, compared to 44.5 per cent in the U.S. and 51.9 per cent in the U.K.

“After completing a thorough and independent scientific review of the evidence, the department has determined that this vaccine is safe and effective at preventing COVID-19 when used in children between 12 and 15 years of age,” Health Canada said in a statement Wednesday.

The New York-based company said at the end of March it’s vaccine was 100 per cent effective in a final-stage trial in kids ages 12 to 15, a finding that opened the door to getting regulatory approval for teens and pre-teens before the start of the next school year.

“We are proud that we are playing a part of the efforts to help protect adolescent Canadians in this devastating pandemic,” Fabien Paquette, vaccine lead at Pfizer Canada, said in a news release.

White House chief medical adviser Anthony Fauci said Wednesday the Food and Drug Administration is likely to issue an emergency authorization for us of the shot in U.S. adolescents in the near future.

“I think it is going to be very soon,” Fauci told NBC News. “I don’t want to get ahead of the FDA, but I believe it is going to be within several days. I cannot imagine it is going to be much longer than that.”