September 2 2022
TOKYO – A Japanese health ministry panel decided Friday that elderly people will be the first to receive improved COVID-19 vaccines effective against omicron variants in the fourth round of vaccinations.
The vaccines will be available from mid-September or later, replacing conventional vaccines gradually. From mid-October, the scope of the new vaccine administration will be expanded to people aged 12 or older who have received at least two COVID-19 vaccine shots.
“We’ll make preparations in close cooperation with local governments,” health minister Katsunobu Kato said, noting that the domestic delivery of the improved vaccines is expected to start in mid-September.
The improved vaccines developed by U.S. drugmakers Pfizer Inc. and Moderna Inc. are undergoing regulatory screenings in Japan. The bivalent vaccines are partly based on components derived from the BA.1 omicron variant.
According to the health ministry, the new vaccine of Pfizer will be administered to people aged 12 or over and that of Moderna to those aged 18 or over.