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Rollout of BA.5 vaccine
A vaccine targeting the dominant Omicron BA.5 subvariant of COVID-19 is now available in Japan. And the minimum period between booster shots has been shortened from five months to three.
Japan's health ministry says everyone who wants the Omicron vaccine should be able to receive one by the end of the year, when the next wave of infections is expected to be building.
The so-called bivalent vaccine targets the dominant BA.5 subvariant. It's also designed to trigger an immune response against the BA.4 subvariant, as well as earlier strains. A previously authorized booster targets the BA.1 and earlier strains. The ministry is urging people to take either type as soon as one is offered.
The ministry says both types of vaccine were developed for Omicron subvariants, so they are thought to be more effective against any Omicron variant than the initial vaccines.
Types of Omicron vaccine approved in Japan
Authorities in Japan have approved Pfizer's BA.5 vaccine. Another, made by Moderna, is pending approval. BA.1 vaccines produced by both companies have already been approved.
All people aged 12 or older who have already had at least two shots are eligible for the new vaccine. Three months must have passed since the last vaccination. People can only receive one Omicron-targeting shot.
The ministry says that data comparing the effectiveness of the vaccines for BA.1 and BA.5 is not available yet.
Where to get your jab
As a general rule, people can get the vaccine in the municipality where they officially reside. When BA.1 vaccines are still in stock, authorities have been instructed to use them before the newer BA.5 versions. Municipalities are not obliged to tell people which they will get when they make a reservation.
*Related article: Japan rolls out vaccines against Omicron (Sept. 29, 2022)
This information is accurate as of October 27, 2022.