Japan to distribute COVID-19 vaccines for the elderly based on population

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The distribution of vaccines to the elderly in Japan to protect them against the new coronavirus, which is expected to begin in April, will be proportional to the population of each prefecture rather than the number of infections, a minister of state said on Tuesday.

“Initially, we will distribute (the vaccine doses) according to the population” and later according to the progress of the vaccinations, said Taro Kono, the minister in charge of vaccine deployment, in a television program. .

Asked whether major cities such as Tokyo and Osaka, which experience more new infections every day, will be prioritized to receive vaccine doses for the elderly, Kono said, “At the moment, I It pays little attention “to the infection situation.

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He also added that the distribution plan will be adjusted if necessary, acknowledging that it is unlikely to be “perfect from the start”.

Last Wednesday, Japan began immunizing an initial group of 40,000 health workers in the first phase of its immunization program.

For people aged 65 or older – a group of around 36 million – vaccinations will begin in April according to the schedule set by the health ministry. But Kono said on Sunday that the vaccine would only be available in limited areas and among limited age groups during this month due to supply shortages.

Staff under 65 in nursing homes for the elderly were also added to the priority list “to prevent cluster infections from occurring in facilities,” Kono said.

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After the start of vaccinations of people aged 65 or older, people with pre-existing diseases and those working in care facilities for the elderly will be targeted, and then finally the general population, according to the health ministry.

On Tuesday, about 200 citizens and city officials took part in a dry run for the deployment of the COVID-19 vaccine at a public health center in Soja, Okayama Prefecture.

Together with doctors from the local medical association, officials practiced the entire inoculation process, from receiving to monitoring for side effects, as well as repeating the procedure for non-Japanese in the city, which has about 70,000 inhabitants.

With just under 2,000 foreign nationals living in the city at the end of January, staff provided individual interpretation in six languages, including English, Vietnamese and Spanish.

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“We had to explain difficult medical terms at times, but everything went well,” said a staff member, adding that the city is also considering preparing multilingual vaccination questionnaires to improve efficiency.

“Even though it takes time, we have a responsibility to explain things in detail and provide support to foreigners and people with disabilities,” Soja Mayor Soichi Kataoka said after the exercise.

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