Expert: COVID booster likely needed in Japan

A member of the health ministry's expert panel says that Japan will likely need to offer a third shot of COVID-19 vaccines as hospitalization from breakthrough infections may rise among the elderly.

Professor Wada Koji of the International University of Health and Welfare says that in countries such as Britain, where many people have been vaccinated, an increasing number of seniors aged 75 or older are being hospitalized with coronavirus infections.

Wada says there are likely to be multiple causes, such as the easing of anti-virus measures at care facilities. But he says that the waning efficacy of vaccines over time is likely another reason. He says Japan could face a similar situation.

Wada says medical workers and care home staff should be given priority, as well as people at high risk of severe illness, including those aged 65 or older and people with underlying medical conditions.

Wada says that overseas studies have generally led some countries to administer boosters about eight months after the second jab. He says based on that scenario, many of the medical workers in Japan who got their second dose by April may require a booster in or after December.

Wada says administering a second dose should be given priority to giving boosters, but he notes that the pace of inoculation has been slowing lately.

He says local governments should once again make an effort to disseminate vaccination details since some people are still uncertain where they can get their jabs, while others have lost their vaccine vouchers.