TOKYO (AP) – Tokyo has launched a mass inoculation drive for COVID-19 booster shots at a temporary centre operated by the military as Japan tries to speed up delayed third jabs to counter surging infections.
Japan began administering booster shots to medical workers in December, but has only provided such inoculations to 2.7 per cent of the population after delaying a decision to cut the interval between the first two coronavirus shots and a booster to six months from the initial eight.
Demand for the shots is intense: Online reservations that started on Friday resulted in all slots for about 4,300 doses to be given at the centre this week being filled within nine minutes. The centre is providing the vaccine made by Moderna, Inc.
On a smaller scale, people ages 65 and older can get booster shots elsewhere.
The centre run by the Self-Defense Force in downtown Tokyo re-opened yesterday after closing down in late November. It will be vaccinating about 720 people aged 18 or older per day this week, ramping up to more than 2,000 a day next month. Another military-run centre will begin booster shots next week in Osaka.
The Omicron variant has been spreading quickly, pushing new reported infections to much higher than earlier waves of coronavirus. Tokyo reported 15,895 new cases on Sunday, a new high for a Sunday. Nearly half of its hospital capacity is filled. Nationwide, Japan recorded some 78,000 cases for an accumulated total of 2.68 million, with about 18,700 deaths.