Japan to open mass Covid vaccination centers operated by army

Tokyo, Apr 27 (EFE).- Mass Covid-19 vaccination centers operated by Japan’s Self-Defense Forces will open from the end of May, the government announced Tuesday.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has ordered the defense ministry to prepare for the first of such facilities to begin inoculations on May 24 in Tokyo, Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato said at a press conference.

With this measure, Japan hopes to boost to its sluggish vaccination program, which started in mid-February. So far, around 2 percent of the population has been vaccinated as the country faces its the fourth wave of infections.

Japan will employ medical officers and nurses from the Self-Defense Forces to administer vaccines to citizens of Tokyo and the neighboring prefectures (Saitama, Chiba and Kanagawa) at the center to be opened in the capital, and also plans to establish similar facilities in the second city of Osaka.

Tokyo’s mass vaccination center will be in operation for three months, Kato said, adding that other details about how these facilities will operate have yet to be defined.

Local media reported that the centers will have the capacity to vaccinate about 10,000 people per day, and that in the first phase they will only be used to immunize people over 65 years of age.

Japan began on Apr. 12 to vaccinate those over 65 years of age, who represent 28 percent of its 125.7 million population, and who are the second group to be inoculated after health workers.

People with underlying diseases and the rest of the population will be vaccinated next, a process that the authorities plan to start by July.

So far Japan has only authorized the Pfizer vaccine, and although it has reserved 170 million doses of AstraZeneca and Moderna, the Ministry of Health has not yet approved them.

Since Monday, Tokyo and three other regions of the country have again been under a state of emergency due to the rebound in coronavirus infections, which has already caused more than 10,000 deaths in the archipelago since the start of the pandemic. EFE


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