Japan’s vaccine push ahead of Olympics looks to be too late
Since May 24, Japan has deployed 280 military doctors and nurses in Tokyo and the badly hit city of Osaka. More than 33,000 vaccination sites now operate across Japan, and more are coming, said Taro Kono, the minister in charge of vaccinations.
In Sumida, a district in downtown Tokyo where boxing events will be held, vaccinations for its 61,000 elderly residents began on May 10, and within two weeks, 31% of them had gotten their first shots, compared to the national average of 3.7%. Sumida is now looking to start inoculating younger people later this month, well ahead of schedule.
Close coordination among primary care doctors, hospitals and residents, as well as flexibility, have contributed to smooth progress, Sumida district spokesperson Yosuke Yatabe said.
“It’s like a factory line,” Yatabe said.
Ryuichiro Suzuki, a 21-year-old university student in Tokyo, said he is frustrated with Japan’s lagging vaccination campaign.
“I saw that some of my friends overseas have been vaccinated, but my turn won’t come until later this summer,” he said. “The risk-averse government took extra caution even when our primary goal was to get back to normal as soon as possible.”
Kono, the vaccine minister, said more large-scale inoculation centers are getting underway, including at hundreds of college campuses and offices to start vaccinating younger people from June 21.
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