Japan governors seek clear standards on booster shots

Jiji Press
Members of The National Governors’ Association participate in a videoconference on Sunday.

The National Governors’ Association at a videoconference Sunday called on the Japanese government to show clear standards on the third round of vaccination against the novel coronavirus, including on the interval between the second and third shots, and a mix-and-match approach.

“With the third round of vaccinations starting in December in the country, municipal officials in charge are concerned if the inoculations will go smoothly,” Shinji Hirai, head of the association and governor of the western prefecture of Tottori, said at the start of the videoconference. “Various information is circulating (over the booster shots), leading confusion to be created. The situation is regrettable,” he added.

The association called on the central government to fully inform people of its stance that the third shots of novel coronavirus vaccines should be given at least eight months after the second shots in principle.

The government plans to allow the booster shots to be given six months after the second shots in exceptional cases. The association asked the state to clarify specific conditions for allowing the shorter interval.

Mieko Yoshimura, governor of Yamagata Prefecture, northeastern Japan, noted that numerous people chose the vaccine of U.S. drugmaker Pfizer Inc. for their first and second shots. With many of them seen choosing the Pfizer vaccine for their third shots, there are concerns about a possible supply shortage for the vaccine, she said.

Tomikazu Fukuda, governor of the eastern prefecture of Tochigi, said, “While mix-and-match vaccinations will be possible for the third shots, the central government should inform the public about the safety of the method.”

The governors association also called on the state to draw up guidelines on the country’s new alert system for the novel coronavirus.

Under the five-tier COVID-19 alert system, the level of the local infection situation will be decided based more on prefectural governments’ judgments than under the older four-tier system.

Many governors participating in the videoconference voiced concerns about this.

Hajime Furuta, governor of the central prefecture of Gifu, asked the national government to clarify relations between the new alert system and a COVID-10 state of emergency.

Furuta said he wonders how prefectural governments’ decisions on the alert level under the new five-tier scale will be linked to the application of measures under the special law on the fight against the coronavirus.