Govt to limit 4th COVID shots to aged 60 or older

TOKYO (Jiji Press) — The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry adopted a plan Wednesday to limit the scope of people eligible for fourth COVID-19 vaccine shots to those who are aged 60 or over, as well as those who are aged 18 or older and have underlying conditions.

The fourth-inoculation scheme, positioned as part of a publicly funded emergency vaccination program, is aimed at preventing people from developing severe COVID-19 symptoms.

Under the scheme, those aged 60 or older will be obliged to make efforts to receive fourth vaccine shots. The interval period between third and fourth shots is set at five months, reflecting circumstances overseas. COVID-19 vaccines developed by U.S. firms Moderna Inc. and Pfizer Inc. will be used.

In an Israeli study, the efficacy of fourth shots in preventing administered people aged 60 or over from becoming very ill did not reduce for six weeks, although the efficacy in preventing infections waned soon after the inoculation.

In March, the ministry launched discussions on a fourth round of vaccinations. On Monday, it decided to give fourth vaccine shots to only elderly people and some others, considering both benefits and risks.

It called for local governments to complete preparations for giving fourth shots to residents around late May.

Israel, the United States, Britain and other countries have already started administering fourth vaccine shots.