The government does not recommend in-school COVID-19 vaccinations for junior high school and high school students, the health and education ministries said Tuesday.

Instead, such students are encouraged to be vaccinated individually by their regular doctors, the ministries said in a notice sent to education boards across the country.

But in municipalities short of doctors to give shots, in-school vaccinations will be allowed after explanations are given to parents and proper measures to deal with possible side effects are taken, they said.

The health ministry has lowered the minimum age for Pfizer Inc.’s vaccine to 12 from 16.

At a news conference, Koichi Hagiuda, minister of education, culture, sports, science and technology, said there are concerns that in-school vaccinations will lead to discrimination and bullying against students who do not get inoculated.

The ministries said that any in-school vaccinations need to be done after school hours or during the summer holiday to leave the decision up to individuals.

In that case, doctors in charge of dealing with side effects need to be secured, the ministries said.

The decision by the ministries came after Taro Kono, minister in charge of vaccine rollout, on Monday backed down from his earlier remark that schoolchildren should be inoculated against the novel coronavirus by the end of the summer break so they can return to school in September without worries about infection.

“The government is not asking for all children to be vaccinated before the summer holidays end,” Kono told reporters on Monday.

Meanwhile, Kono expressed hope that university students will receive COVID-19 shots during the summer holidays if possible so that face-to-face lectures can be resumed widely from the second term.

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