10,000 Medical Workers in Japan may Get Coronavirus Vaccine in Late February

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry in Tokyo

The health ministry plans to allow about 10,000 medical workers to begin getting vaccinated against the novel coronavirus as early as late February, giving them priority, while aiming to set up a vaccination system for the elderly around late March, according to a draft timetable presented Friday.

According to the draft, presented at a closed-door online briefing for local governments, about 10,000 medical workers who are directly involved in the treatment of coronavirus patients will be vaccinated first. The vaccination scheme will be set up between late February and early March.

The preparations for vaccinating the next target group, about 3 million general medical workers, is expected to be completed by the end of March.

For securing the scheme, local governments are expected to provide staffing, and an adequate system for the printing and issuance of vaccination coupons, in addition to coordination with medical institutions.

For the elderly, estimated to number 30 million to 40 million people, a system will be established between late March and early April. The vaccination system for people other than the elderly who have underlying diseases will be ready in April or after, according to the draft timeline.

In reality, however, vaccinations will be affected by the amount and timing of the vaccine supply. The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry will clarify who is defined as elderly and the types of underlying diseases specified in the scheme, while listening to the opinions of experts.

An attendee at the meeting said many local governments expressed concern over the delay in preparations, but the ministry asked for their support, saying it wants them to “work [toward the target] in cooperation with all divisions.”