A Japanese health ministry panel approved Wednesday a plan to initially administer fourth COVID-19 vaccine shots only to the elderly and people with underlying medical conditions.

The fourth shots of Moderna and Pfizer vaccines will be available five months after a person received their third shot, according to the plan.

Members of a Japanese health ministry panel meet in Tokyo on April 27, 2022, to discuss a plan to administer fourth COVID-19 vaccine shots. (Kyodo)

People aged 60 or older as well as those 18 or older who suffer from a medical condition are eligible for a fourth shot. The fourth vaccination will be offered for free like the first three.

The panel also said the fourth shot may be made more widely available later.

"We will examine the scope of coverage while looking at future evidence and the infection situation," Takaji Wakita, head of the National Institute of Infectious Diseases and leader of the panel, said at its meeting.