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COVID-19 vaccines for elderly in Japan estimated to begin in April at earliest

Minister in charge of Administrative Reform Taro Kono (Mainichi)

TOKYO -- Japan's Minister in charge of Administrative Reform Taro Kono indicated that COVID-19 vaccines for elderly people aged at least 65 -- a priority group for inoculations -- are expected to begin some time in April or later.

    Kono said on Jan. 27, "Vaccinations for the elderly will begin on April 1 at the earliest. I'd like local governments to prepare with this schedule in mind." He conveyed the information in an online meeting with Tokushima Gov. Kamon Iizumi, president of the National Governors' Association, and others, before speaking with reporters in Tokyo.

    The Japanese government had initially envisioned administering vaccines in advance to around 10,000 to 20,000 health care workers from whom it has received consent, followed by about 3.7 million people, including health care professionals and rescue workers, who frequently come into contact with novel coronavirus patients. It planned to have elderly individuals aged 65 or older, whose numbers are estimated to be around 36 million people, subsequently begin receiving vaccines between late March and early April.

    Regarding the schedule for completing vaccines for the elderly, Kono said, "Say vaccinations start on April 1, then they will continue for two months and three weeks, and end in the third week of June." As for when vaccinations will begin for the general public, he commented, "I don't know about that yet."

    (Japanese original by Yusuke Tanabe, Political News Department)

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