Kishida announces target of ‘1 million booster shots per day’

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida speaks about the COVID-19 vaccine booster shot rollout during the House of Representatives budget committee meeting on Monday.

The government aims to administer 1 million doses of COVID-19 booster shots a day, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida announced Monday.

“We’ll strengthen our efforts to increase the pace to 1 million doses per day as early as possible in February,” Kishida said during a House of Representatives Budget Committee meeting, stating a target number for the booster rollout for the first time.

Prior to the Budget Committee meeting, Kishida told relevant ministers including Health, Labor and Welfare Minister Shigeyuki Goto and Noriko Horiuchi, the minister in charge of vaccinations, to work with local governments and private companies to realize the daily target of 1 million doses at an early stage.

He also told them to urge companies to make use of the workplace vaccination program and start administering vaccines in mid-February, bringing forward the initially expected starting time of the end of the month.

As infections have been spreading in nurseries and schools, Kishida also asked the ministers to have local governments promote booster shots for essential workers, including school and nursery teachers, police officers and fire officials.

The government will urge local governments to make full use of distributed vaccines and promote inoculations ahead of schedule by accelerating the distribution of inoculation vouchers and increasing the number of inoculation sites.

“Booster shots are key to preventing the onset of the disease or serious symptoms,” Kishida said at the Budget Committee meeting when discussing countermeasures against the omicron variant of the novel coronavirus.

He also stressed, “The Kishida administration will uphold a clear goal, and the entire government will work together to inoculate those who wish to be vaccinated as soon as possible.”

The government plans to increase the daily number of shots administered at a mass vaccination center in Osaka City ran by the Self-Defense Forces to 2,500 from the current 960 by Feb. 14 or so, Kishida said at the meeting in response to a question from Liberal Democratic Party lower house member Koichi Tani.

About 500,000 booster shots per day are currently being administered. And there have been calls from within the ruling parties to set a target of 1 million doses per day, similar to the target of former Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s Cabinet.