TOKYO—The Japanese government plans to allow booster shots of COVID-19 vaccine to be administered as soon as 6 months after an individual has received a second dose, sources familiar with the matter said Monday.
The health ministry has set an 8-month interval between second and third shots, but local governments will be able to shorten the period by 2 months if they deem it necessary.
Booster shots have been proven effective in preventing the decline of vaccine protection over time, and Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has vowed to begin administering them within the year, starting with medical personnel.
Individuals aged 18 and older will be eligible, with the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare to give further consideration to expanding coverage to children between ages 12 and 17. Those with preexisting conditions or working in high-risk professions will be especially encouraged to get booster shots.
Only messenger RNA vaccines developed by Pfizer Inc. or Moderna Inc. will be administered, regardless of the type individuals received as first and second doses. The Pfizer vaccine is currently the only one approved by the health ministry for third shots.
According to the Japanese government, more than 75 percent of the country's population has been fully vaccinated, a higher rate than most of the other members of the Group of Seven nations, despite the country getting off to a slow start. More than 78 percent have received at least one shot.