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30 Japan local gov'ts plan to set up mass-vaccination sites

Japan's COVID-19 vaccination policy head Taro Kono (Mainichi)

TOKYO -- A total of 30 local governments across Japan's 47 prefectures and 20 ordinance-designated large cities have indicated their intention to establish large-scale coronavirus vaccination centers with the help of planned central government subsidies, according to remarks at a May 18 news conference by Taro Kono, the Japanese government's vaccinations chief and minister in charge of administrative reform.

    Though Kono did not specifically identify the governments expected to set up the centers, he did say that "it is certain it will accelerate vaccinations."

    On May 24, the central government will open mass vaccination centers in Tokyo and Osaka directly operated by the Self-Defense Forces. There have also been calls in other regions for similar centers to be set up, and prefectural governments including in Aichi, Gunma and Tottori have already indicated that they plan to launch and run vaccination centers.

    The central government plans to supply the centers with U.S. firm Moderna Inc.'s vaccine -- which is expected to be approved within May -- in the order it receives local governments requests, and to subsidize expenses including venue-hire costs.

    Regarding whether to allow pharmacists to administer injections as solution to mass vaccination staff shortages, Kono spoke positively: "It will be under consideration. We would like to decide early while seeing if dentists (who are newly allowed to administer vaccine shots) relieve vaccine staff shortages."

    (Japanese original by Kazuhiko Hori, Political News Department)

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