Because of how easily the new Omicron strain is transmissible, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida wants to broaden the scope of COVID-19 immunization to children under the age of 12, potentially in March.
Vaccination centers across Tokyo and Osaka will open their doors in early February to administer the third shot. In March, the government aims to prioritize the third shot to the older citizens and begin the booster program for other age groups. In February of last year, vaccination clinics set up in Tokyo and Osaka administered 1.96 million doses to those aged 16 and above.
Last month, Japan’s Health Ministry granted fast track clearance to Moderna Inc.’s COVID-19 vaccine as a booster dose. This was approved right after Pfizer Inc.’s COVID-19 vaccine got its hands on approval. PM Kishida said, “Many youngsters and children have contracted the Omicron variant, so they are recommended to get vaccinated soon,” referring to an analysis that showed older people could develop severe symptoms if the new variant spreads at a rapid rate.
Youth up to the age of 19 accounted for over 20% of the total new cases in the southern island of Okinawa.
The government has extended the foreigner entry restriction until the end of February to boost efforts against the highly infectious strain. Currently, Medical personnel and the elderly are eligible for the booster, as only 0.7 percent of the Japanese population received the third shot. PM Kishida called for ensuring examinees’ access to school entrance exams for the next academic year, which begin in April.
According to Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno, admission after April would be limited to universities and other higher education institutions. Around 16,000 medical institutions can respond to coronavirus patients, said PM Kishida. Coronavirus cases went past 6,399 Tuesday, near the sixth fold than last week.
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