TOKYO: The Japanese health ministry on Thursday decided to start preparations for administrating fourth shots of novel coronavirus vaccines.
The ministry plans to administer the fourth shots as “temporary vaccinations,” like the first, second and third shots. It assumes the use of Pfizer Inc.’s or Moderna Inc.’s vaccine for the fourth shots.
The timing to start giving the fourth shots and the interval between the third and fourth shots will continue to be discussed.
Since the infection prevention effect tends to decrease once a certain period passes after a third shot, the health ministry sought an expert panel’s judgment on the fourth shot administration plan the same day. The panel approved the plan.
Some members of the expert panel asked whether everyone needs to be inoculated for the fourth time. Others said discussions need to be held on whether the fourth shots should be limited to medical workers and those with risks of becoming severely ill.
The expert panel will continue to discuss the details of the fourth shots, while the health ministry plans to call on municipalities to make preparations for allowing all of those who received their third doses to receive their fourth shots.
According to the health ministry, research in the United States showed that the effectiveness of infection prevention stood at 71.6 pct until the 60th day after the third shot of the Moderna vaccine, but decreased to 47.4 pct after 60 days.
Israel started giving the fourth shots last December. After the turn of the year, Britain, France and Germany also started fourth vaccinations, but only medical workers, elderly people and other vulnerable people are subject to the inoculations.