Japan might bring back proof of vaccination system to push booster shots

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
People wait to show proof of vaccination to enter a music event venue in Nagoya in December.

With COVID-19 booster shots administered to only 15% of the population so far, the government is looking to reintroduce a proof of vaccination system to allow entry to eateries and events.

The system was introduced in November last year to remove restrictions on the number of people allowed in restaurants and event venues, even under a novel coronavirus-related state of emergency or quasi-emergency. Proof of a negative PCR test was also allowed.

After the omicron variant spread and conspicuously infected people who had already received their second dose of the vaccination series, the system was suspended in January.

As a third dose is said to be effective against the effects of the omicron variant, receiving the booster shot will likely be the prerequisite for proof of vaccination.

A subcommittee of experts on COVID-19 control measures will be convened within the week to begin discussions, according to government officials.

The quasi-emergency measures currently in place in Tokyo and 30 prefectures are provisionally set to end March 6, so the government will hear expert opinions when considering the timing of the system’s reintroduction.