TOKYO: The Japanese government is planning to open large vaccination centers in Tokyo and Osaka in the coming weeks to administer shots in a bid to speed up its inoculation drive, local media reported on Sunday (Apr 25).
Japan only started vaccinating its sizable elderly population this month and health experts say it may take till the winter (December to February) or longer for most of the general populace to get access to the shots.
The Nikkei newspaper said on Sunday the government will open a vaccination site in central Tokyo as early as May that will be able to vaccinate about 10,000 people a day. The site will be open to anyone living and working in Tokyo, the paper said.
Medically trained staff from Japan’s Self-Defense Forces will also assist with vaccinations in such centres, the Nikkei said.
The Japanese government has come under sharp criticism for its sluggish vaccination rollout, which has been handled mostly by municipal authorities. Japan has vaccinated about 1 per cent of its population, according to a Reuters tracker.
READ: Japan’s restaurant booze ban sets new COVID-19 emergency apart
READ: Japan declares COVID-19 emergency 3 months before Olympics
Japan has avoided an explosive spread of the pandemic experienced by many countries. There have been about 550,000 cases and 9,761 deaths, significantly lower numbers than inother large economies.
But the latest rise in infections has stoked alarm, with a surge in a mutant variant and a critical shortage of medical staff and hospital beds in some areas.
Japan’s third state of emergency in Tokyo, Osaka and two other prefectures began on Sunday, which will cover nearly a quarter of the population and attempt to combat a surge in coronavirus cases three months before the Tokyo Olympics is set to open.
BOOKMARK THIS: Our comprehensive coverage of the coronavirus outbreak and its developments
Download our app or subscribe to our Telegram channel for the latest updates on the coronavirus outbreak: https://cna.asia/telegram