Japan opened large-scale coronavirus vaccination centers in Tokyo and Osaka on May 24 in a bid to accelerate the country’s inoculation program, which has lagged behind other developed countries and fueled concerns about the plan to hold the Olympics in the capital in July and August.
The centers, run by the Self-Defense Forces, will operate for three months from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., including weekends and national holidays. They will use the vaccine developed by U.S. pharmaceutical firm Moderna Inc. that was approved by the government May 21.
Japan hopes the mass venues, aiming to inoculate up to 10,000 people a day in Tokyo and 5,000 in Osaka, will help meet its target of completing vaccinations by the end of July of people aged 65 or older, or who will turn 65 in the current fiscal year. The Tokyo Olympics will start on July 23.
The slots were quickly filled after the Defense Ministry started accepting reservations on May 17 on its website and via the Line messaging app.
Japan’s vaccination program started in February with health care workers and later expanded to the elderly, totaling about 36 million people. But only around 4% of the country’s population of 126 million has received at least one dose. (Kyodo)