Japanese universities to start administering vaccination boosters

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Universities will fully begin administering the third COVID-19 vaccine to students and staff later this month, and the Department of Education is calling on more universities to consider such vaccinations.

On Monday, Hiroshima University became the first national university in the country to start giving boosters. Initially, he planned to start the program on March 1, but moved the schedule forward in response to the government’s policy of providing third injections earlier.

“We wanted to create an environment where students can get vaccines early because there are those who will graduate,” a university official said.

“I got it early because I thought it was best to prevent the spread of infection by getting as many people vaccinated as possible,” said 23-year-old graduate student Ryota Koike.

Hiroshima University plans to vaccinate about 34,000 students and staff over the next two months, officials said.

Kindai University in Osaka Prefecture will begin giving booster shots on Feb. 28, prioritizing students and staff who will graduate or retire in March.

Tohoku University in Miyagi Prefecture will also start booster vaccinations on February 28.

The University of Tokyo will begin providing booster shots on March 1, followed by Tokyo’s Keio University and Osaka University in late March and Waseda University, also in Tokyo, in mid-April.

COVID-19 vaccinations at universities began last June with 364 universities, colleges and technical colleges administering first and second vaccines to a total of 1.55 million people, including students, staff and residents. local.

Among them, however, only 176 universities, or less than half, have asked to administer reminders, according to the Ministry of Education.

Some universities are not planning to do booster injections, citing difficulties due to many events, such as graduation ceremonies at this time of year, and the progress of inoculations by local municipalities.

“We don’t know how many people will get (booster shots),” said an official from Nippon Sport Science University in Tokyo. “Some students returned to their hometowns after the end of the second semester,” the official added.

A Nihon University official said he was not considering administering boosters. “The university hospital is busy treating patients with COVID-19 and it is difficult to find the necessary medical staff for vaccinations,” the official said.

Education Minister Shinsuke Suematsu, speaking at a press conference on Friday, said: “We hope that (more) universities will consider (booster vaccinations) to speed up third injections, although that there will be a considerable burden during this season due to entrance exams and other events.”

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has set a daily target of administering 1 million boosters by the end of February and around 13% of the country’s population had received a third dose by Friday.

The government is urging businesses and universities to speed up their inoculation programs as daily coronavirus death tolls recently hit record highs, even as daily new cases appear to have peaked.

On February 12, ANA Holdings Inc. and Japan Airlines Co. began offering booster shots to their employees and family members at Haneda Airport, ahead of other private companies that launched vaccination programs in the workplace last week.

The government has agreed with Pfizer Inc. to purchase an additional 10 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine by March to expedite the rollout of recalls.

The additional injections will be on top of the 120 million doses that Japan has already agreed to procure from the US pharmaceutical giant for this year.

Besides Pfizer’s vaccine, Japan has agreed to buy 93 million vaccines and 150 million vaccines this year from US pharmaceutical companies Moderna Inc. and Novavax Inc., respectively.

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