Japan Aims to Finish Vaccinations for Elderly in 3 Months

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Tokyo, Feb. 12 (Jiji Press)--The Japanese government aims to start COVID-19 vaccinations on April 1, the beginning of fiscal 2021, for a total of some 36 million people in the country who will become 65 or older in the year, aiming to finish the vaccinations within three months.

The inoculation program for the elderly will come after vaccinations of medical workers, which are slated to begin later this month following the arrival to Japan on Friday of the first shipment of U.S. drugmaker Pfizer Inc.'s vaccine against the novel coronavirus blamed for the COVID-19 disease.

The health ministry plans to send vaccination coupons to elderly people from mid-March. The coupons will allow them to receive two doses of the Pfizer vaccine at intervals of three weeks. But it is uncertain whether the elderly vaccination program will go as planned.

A medical industry source said it will be quite a difficult challenge to finish the vaccinations in three months. "It remains to be seen how many doctors and nurses municipal governments can be mobilized for vaccinations," the source said. Vaccination staff will need to visit some elderly people at nursing facilities, the source added.

After the elderly, about 8.2 million people with 14 health ministry-designated underlying conditions, including chronic breathing problems, heart disease and diabetes, will be vaccinated, along with some two million workers at elderly facilities.

[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]

Jiji Press