Japan OKs administration of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine booster shots

Kyodo -- Nov 11
A Japanese health ministry panel approved Wednesday the administration of third booster shots of U.S. pharmaceutical giant Pfizer Inc.'s COVID-19 vaccine to people aged 18 and over, starting with medical personnel from December.

The move came as overseas studies showed antibodies that protect against the respiratory disease decrease over time in all age groups, with the effectiveness of vaccines lasting around six months.

After health care workers, individuals who were inoculated with two doses of the Pfizer vaccine will become eligible for the booster shots in January.

The government is planning to start making booster shots available at workplaces from March.

For now, Japan will refrain from administering Pfizer booster shots to those aged between 12 and 17 due to a lack of data on the vaccine's safety and efficacy. The country, however, will consider lowering the age for third shot recipients after safety is confirmed as the rollout progresses.

The panel made the decision as Pfizer only conducted studies on the booster shoot's effectiveness in those aged 18 or older while considering cases in the United States and other countries already administering the booster shots.

Pfizer's clinical studies found that a third dose of its vaccine increased the antibodies against the coronavirus to 3.3 times the levels seen after the second dose.

In another trial, the vaccination became 95.6 percent effective against symptomatic infection when a booster shot was administered about 11 months after a second dose.