TOKYO: A Japanese health ministry panel agreed Thursday on a plan to make a third COVID-19 vaccine shot, or a booster shot, available to everyone who has received two vaccine doses.
A booster shot is expected to be given as early as eight months after a second shot is finished. No priority is seen set for booster shots, but the additional shots are likely to start in December with medical workers, who were the first to receive vaccine doses in the country from February.
The health ministry is slated to formally decide the booster shot plan in November.
The ministry panel took into account an overseas survey that showed that the infection prevention effect of US drugmaker Pfizer Inc.’s vaccine falls from 88 pct to 47 pct after five months for all people aged 12 or older.
The panel also agreed to secure inoculation opportunities for those who have received no vaccine dose after booster shots begin.
In Japan, three COVID-19 vaccines, developed respectively by Pfizer, US biopharmaceutical firm Moderna Inc. and Britain’s AstraZeneca PLC, are currently used.
The health ministry has contracts to procure 120 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine and 50 million doses of the Moderna vaccine for next year.