• Kyodo

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Japan’s state-run mass COVID-19 inoculation centers are looking into giving shots to people age 16 or over, Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi said Friday, lowering the minimum age from 18 amid the spread of the virus among younger people.

The move by the centers in Tokyo and Osaka, which are run by the Self-Defense Forces, comes as the highly contagious delta variant of the coronavirus leads to more infections among children.

The ministry is expected to make a final decision Friday afternoon on lowering the minimum age, a government source said.

The vaccination sites use U.S. pharmaceutical company Moderna Inc.’s two-dose vaccine, which has been approved for people aged 12 and older.

Those age 16 and older in Japan do not need parental permission nor do they need to be accompanied by parents or guardians to receive the shots.

The centers were previously scheduled to end operation at the end of September, but the government decided earlier this month to continue giving shots at the sites through late November amid a surge of COVID-19 cases among younger generations.

They will newly offer the first dose of the vaccine between Sunday and late October.

More than 50% of Japan’s population of 125 million has been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to government data. The government plans to finish vaccinating all eligible people who wish to receive shots by November.

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