17th January, 2022
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Monday said Japan will bring forward COVID-19 vaccination booster shots by as much as two months.
Kishida said this is as the highly transmissible Omicron variant sends infections soaring nationwide.
With an upper house election slated later this year, containing the pandemic is critically important for Kishida. His predecessor, Yoshihide Suga, stepped down last year after his voter support crumbled as COVID-19 surged.
“The Kishida administration puts the highest priority on its coronavirus response,” the prime minister said in the speech marking the start of a regular session of parliament.
From March, booster shots for the elderly will be administered six months after the second shots, rather than the originally planned eight months, and the interval will be shortened by a month or two for other adults, he said.
Fewer than 1% of Japanese have received booster shots, far behind Britain’s 53% and 24% in the United States, according to the Our World in Data project at the University of Oxford.
Kishida underscored a tough battle ahead and asked for the people’s support in fighting the pandemic Reuters reports.
“We need to remind ourselves afresh this invisible enemy is tougher than expected,” he said. “I am determined to press ahead calmly with our response based on the latest findings while consulting specialists and not letting fear dominate us.”