Japan's next round of COVID vaccinations starts in May for most vulnerable

Japan's health ministry has decided to start its next round of COVID-19 vaccinations on May 8, targeting the elderly.

The ministry had already decided to extend the free vaccination program until March of next year.

Those at higher risk of getting seriously ill will be offered vaccines twice a year, with the first in May and the second in September. Others can get the vaccine from September.

An expert panel of the ministry met on Tuesday and decided on the schedule and other details of the rollout.
Vaccines effective against the Omicron variant will be used for the shots that will be given starting on May 8, first targeting the elderly, people with underlying conditions and healthcare and elderly care workers.

The type of vaccines to be used and the rollout schedule in September and later will be decided after assessing possible virus mutations and other situations.

The ministry plans to urge people who are yet to be fully vaccinated to receive shots by May 7, because eligibility will be narrowed for some time from the next day.

The panel also decided that booster vaccinations of Omicron-targeted shots should begin on children aged 5 through 11 on Wednesday. Those who want to receive it are required to have had their previous shot at least three months ago.