Vaccinations for Japan’s Elderly to Be Delayed

The Yomiuri Shimbun
The second batch of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is seen at Narita Airport on Sunday, after arriving at the airport at about 9:50 a.m. that day.

Vaccinations of the elderly will be delayed due to an extremely limited supply of COVID-19 vaccine in Japan until May, according to administrative reform minister Taro Kono, who is also in charge of vaccination efforts.

During an NHK TV program broadcast on Sunday, Kono said vaccinations for elderly people aged 65 or older, which are set to start in April, will be gradually expanded. He also revealed that he is thinking of announcing a new vaccination plan this week.

“[Vaccinations] for elderly people will be pushed back. I’d like to start gradually in April and slowly expand them,” Kono said. According to the minister, the vaccine supply from major U.S. pharmaceutical company Pfizer Inc. will increase from May onward, and the number of medical workers to be inoculated ahead of the elderly population turned out to be about 1 million more than originally planned by the government.

The government initially estimated that vaccinations for elderly people would take two months and three weeks.

“Perhaps it won’t go like that in big cities,” said Kono, who also touched on the possibility that the delay may affect the vaccination schedule for non-elderly members of the public.

According to Pfizer, the second batch of its vaccine that arrived at Narita Airport on Sunday contained 75,465 vials. With six doses drawn from each vial, that represents enough for about 450,000 vaccinations, or about 230,000 people.

Together with the first batch that arrived on Feb. 12, enough vaccine for about 840,000 doses, or about 420,000 people, has arrived in Japan..