Take a shot at getting tickets to see panda cubs at Ueno Zoo

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Giant panda cub Lei Lei is seen at Ueno Zoo in Taito Ward, Tokyo, on March 23.

Want to see the pandas at Ueno Zoo? For people in Tokyo who have yet to receive the COVID-19 booster, getting the shot might just mean winning a free guided tour featuring the giant panda cub twins Xiao Xiao and Lei Lei.

To apply for the tickets, applicants are required to register their vaccinations on Tokyo Vaction, an app to prove vaccination status run by the Tokyo metropolitan government.

People who have been vaccinated with at least two doses can apply, but the chances of winning the tickets to Ueno Zoo in Taito Ward are doubled for those who receive a third dose.

“I want the younger generation to consider receiving vaccinations,” Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike said during a press conference on Friday.

No boost for 24% under-65s

COVID-19 vaccination boosters have not progressed as well as hoped among working-age people under 65. As new infection cases have been on the rise again across the nation, local governments and other entities are working to promote booster shots.

According to data from the Health, Labor, and Welfare Ministry, as of the end of March, the number of people 65 or older who were eligible for their third dose was 32.42 million, and this figure for working-age people under 65 including health care workers was 31.30 million. Only 8% of the elderly had yet to receive booster shots, compared to 24% in the working-age group.

On the other hand, infection numbers have risen again nationwide, raising concerns over the spread of infections among young people in particular.

In Tokyo, people under 30 accounted for half of new infection cases during the seven-day period from March 29 through April 4.

“There is no doubt that the effectiveness in preventing infections will increase if vaccinations progress,” said Takaji Wakita, director general of the National Institute of Infectious Diseases who also chairs a health ministry advisory body, at a press conference on April 6.