Japan speeds up COVID vaccine rollout for elderly amid virus surge

Kyodo -- May 10
Japan accelerated Monday its rollout of coronavirus vaccines with the aim of inoculating all of the elderly by the end of July amid a fourth wave of infections.

The government will send vaccines to municipalities to administer to over 9 million people in two weeks from Monday, covering a quarter of the nation's elderly population of about 36 million and plans to distribute vaccines for the entire elderly population by the end of June.

Japan lags behind other advanced countries in its vaccine rollout, with only some 240,000 of the elderly having received the first of two shots as of last Thursday, according to government data.

A total of about 390 municipalities will launch the vaccination program in a seven-day period starting Monday, the largest number per week, starting with around 120 local governments on the first day, the health ministry said.

In an effort to secure telephone lines for emergency calls even when calls to make a reservation flood the lines, major Japanese telecom companies have imposed a temporary restriction on the number of incoming calls to local governments accepting reservations.

- Kyodo