TOKYO, Japan– A panel of the Japanese health ministry on Monday approved administering booster shots of the COVID-19 vaccine from Dec. 1 in the country.
The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine will initially be the only one used for the third doses.
Individuals to receive the booster shot will in principle need to wait eight months after their second dose, the health ministry panel said.
However, local governments are allowed to shorten the interval to six months if they consider it necessary, for example to contain an ongoing surge in infections.
Local governments are set to begin mailing out vouchers for the booster shots later this month.
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has pledged to begin administering the third doses within the year, with medical workers being the first group before the program expands to the elderly in January 2022.
Meanwhile, people aged 18 and over will be eligible for the booster shots which are particularly recommended to people living with pre-existing conditions or working in high-risk occupations.