This is our series on key coronavirus-related information. Click here to read other installments: #Coronavirus the facts. Find the latest information and answers from experts on everything COVID-19.
Getting boosters sooner
As Japan reports record daily case numbers, experts are conerned that the explosive spread could overwhelm healthcare systems. People are being urged to get their booster shots as soon as they are available.
The schedule for boosters has been accelerated and the Self-Defense Forces are setting up large-scale vaccination centers to help local municipalities with the rollout.
An updated schedule
Japan's health ministry has notified municipalities across the country about the updated schedule. Initially, the interval between the second shot and booster was eight months. Starting from March, the interval will be shortened to six months for older people, and seven months for the general public.
Municipalities whose vaccinations programs have the capacity to do so can further speed up the schedule and offer booster shots to members of the general public who had their second shots at least six months ago.
Who can get the booster
People who want a booster must meet two criteria:
- Must be aged 18 or older and have received two doses of the Pfizer, Moderna or AstraZeneca vaccines.
- A gap of at least six months since the second vaccination shot.
People at high risk of exposure and serious illness, such as medical workers, the elderly, and those with underlying diseases, are encouraged to get a booster as soon as they are eligible.
Pfizer or Moderna?
Both Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are being used for boosters. The Pfizer dose is the same amount delivered in each of the first two shots. Moderna's booster is half the dose administered in each of the first two.
Japan recommends mixing shots to speed up the booster program. Authorities want people to receive whatever brand is available as early as possible.
Click here to learn more about mixing shots.
Vaccination venues are listed on the health ministry's multilingual websites.
https://v-sys.mhlw.go.jp/ja-pl/ (Easy Japanese)
https://v-sys.mhlw.go.jp/zh-cn/ (Simplified Chinese)
https://v-sys.mhlw.go.jp/zh-tw/ (Traditional Chinese)
Large-scale centers in Tokyo and Osaka
Japan's SDF is operating large-scale vaccination centers in Tokyo and Osaka, just like it did during the delivery phase for the primary two doses. The venues are offering Moderna boosters. Reservations can be made online or by calling, but online is preferred.
---The Tokyo center opened on January 31 in the Otemachi district, and reservations started on January 28.
---The Osaka venue opens on February 7 at the Yagi Building in Chuo Ward. Bookings will be accepted from February 4.
Reservations can be made on the website below or by calling the numbers listed on the site.
According to Japan's health ministery, clinical trials conducted in the US by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna found the side-effects between the booster and the initial two doses to be almost the same. Symptoms include fever, fatigue and pain. There was an increase in swollen or painful lymph nodes, which is considered to be a response caused by immune cells that are activated by the vaccine. Most symptoms tend to subside as time passes.
This article is accurate as of February 1, 2022.