Free Vaccinations for XBB Omicron Variant Start in Japan; Elderly, At-Risk People Especially Urged to Get Shots

The Yomiuri Shimbun
A man receives a vaccine for the XBB variant on Wednesday in Minato Ward, Tokyo.

Free vaccinations for XBB — a new omicron variant of the novel coronavirus — began Wednesday.

The shots are intended for those aged 6 months or older who have been vaccinated before.

This season’s vaccination — legally categorized as an emergency inoculation — will be administered until the end of March next year.

Those at high risk of falling seriously ill or those aged 65 or older are either recommended or required to make an effort to get vaccinated.

The vaccine will be supplied by U.S. manufacturers Pfizer Inc., providing 20 million doses, and Moderna Inc., providing 5 million doses.

The process for administering the vaccines, such as distributing vouchers, differs by municipality. The Health, Labor, and Welfare Ministry recommends checking websites and notices of each municipality concerned.

On Wednesday, six people were vaccinated at the Nakamura Clinic in Minato Ward, Tokyo.

“I heard from my infected friend that it was tough. Being at an old age, I’m relieved that I was able to get vaccinated,” said a 65-year-old restaurant manager living in the ward.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said at a press conference Wednesday: “The efficacy of the new vaccine in preventing serious illness has been confirmed. We want the elderly who are at high risk of serious illness and those who have underlying medical conditions to consider being vaccinated.”