Japan starts administering COVID vaccines targeting Omicron

Japan started administering coronavirus vaccines targeting the Omicron variant on Tuesday. All people aged 12 or older who have had a second shot at least five months ago are eligible.

Local municipalities will decide who has priority for the shots. Healthcare workers and elderly people who have yet to receive their fourth doses are expected to be first in line.

In Tokyo's Minato Ward, people aged 60 or over, medical workers and others came to a facility to receive their shots. They had booked their vaccinations in advance.

Other municipalities are expected to follow suit as soon as they are ready. The number of people who can get the jabs will be gradually expanded through mid-October.

As of now, each person is eligible for one shot.

The health ministry is asking municipalities to deliver vaccination vouchers by the end of October. Unused vouchers originally meant for the third jab will also be accepted.

Japan has approved Omicron variant-targeted vaccines by Pfizer and Moderna. The health ministry says they are expected to be more effective against the Omicron variant than previous vaccines and are also highly likely to be effective against future subvariants.

The ministry aims to complete the inoculations of all those who want them by the end of the year, as it braces for a possible resurgence around that time.

It's also planning to shorten the five-month period required between doses.