In this March 12, 2020, file photo, Maine Gov. Janet Mills speaks at a news conference at the State House in Augusta. Credit: Robert F. Bukaty / AP

Gov. Janet Mills said Monday night that Maine providers can now administer Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine to children as young as 12.

That comes immediately on the heels of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s decision to authorize the vaccine for use for 12- to 15-year-olds. The race to vaccinate them will begin as soon a federal advisory commission releases guidelines as early as Wednesday, according to the Associated Press.

“I encourage parents to get their children vaccinated as soon as possible to protect their health, to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in our state, and to help us get back to normal sooner,” Mills said.

The expanded authorization means another 58,000 Mainers are eligible to receive the two-dose vaccine.

Maine has been preparing for the rollout, saying in a planning document last week that it wants sites to prioritize kids 12-17. The state plan includes clinics in partnership with schools in June and July with the goal of having eligible students and staff vaccinated by the next school year. Jeanne Lambrew, the commissioner of the Maine Department of Health and Human Services, said that the state will begin working with providers to expand the vaccination drive to this new cohort.

Vaccinating children is seen as a key benchmark on the road back to normalcy. Schools were the site of more than two-thirds of virus outbreaks in mid-April. Despite that, transmission has been low in school outbreaks.