The health ministry on Wednesday issued fast-track approval for Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine for children between the ages of 6 months and 4 years old.

The vaccine, which is an updated version targeting the original strain and the BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants of omicron, will be administered over three shots. The second shot will be given three weeks after the first, and the third shot will be given eight weeks after the second.

The ministry also approved the production and sales of the same bivalent vaccine for adults as a booster shot. People who received a previous shot five months ago or earlier will be eligible, health ministry officials said. But they added that it is currently considering whether to shorten the interval between the shots and will reach a conclusion by late October.

In January, Japan expanded use of the vaccine to those as young as 5 years old. Last month, health authorities started to administer Pfizer and Moderna booster shots that target the omicron variant of the virus.

Moderna said earlier on Wednesday that it was seeking Japanese approval of its own subvariant shot.