• Jiji, Kyodo, Reuters


Tickets for COVID-19 vaccinations will be sent to people age 65 or older in Japan from mid-March, according to the health ministry’s vaccination schedule.

The ministry presented the schedule at a briefing session for local governments on Monday.

According to the ministry, the vaccination tickets will be sent to about 36 million older residents, who are third priority for vaccinations, after the first group of 10,000 to 20,000 medical workers at designated hospitals and the second of 3.7 million other medical workers.

Municipal governments, which will manage vaccination programs, are preparing to send the tickets, with a view to starting vaccinations as soon as late March.

In Japan, work to approve U.S. drugmaker Pfizer Inc.’s vaccine is underway. The Pfizer vaccine should be administered twice with an interval of three weeks.

The ministry’s vaccination schedule calls for finishing vaccinations for older people within three months.

The ministry also plans to allow workers at care homes, if they meet certain conditions, to have vaccinations along with the facilities’ older residents.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga confirmed Monday that the government is aiming to secure enough vaccines for all residents in Japan by June.

Japan is set to receive 310 million vaccine doses from two U.S. pharmaceutical companies, Pfizer Inc. and Moderna Inc., and Britain’s AstraZeneca PLC. The total will be enough for 157 million people.

Taro Kono, minister in charge of the vaccine rollout, said Monday that the government will develop a system to comprehensively manage personal information to promote vaccination without delay.

While the central government is in charge of securing vaccines, inoculation will be left to local governments.

Under the envisaged system, municipal governments will input the numbers printed on the vaccine tickets sent to residents and their My Number IDs, used for social security and taxation purposes, while medical institutions will register the ticket numbers and information on vaccines administered to the residents.

The planned system will be able to handle circumstances of people who relocate after the first vaccination or those who lose their vaccination tickets.

Kono told reporters that the government hopes to launch the system in time for the start of vaccination for older people.

Kono also said that the central government will shoulder all costs associated with vaccinations, as the country prepares to begin vaccinations in late February. He did not reveal any cost figures for the vaccinations.

Kono has said Pfizer’s vaccine would be used for the first shots, starting with medical workers, with the next priority being to vaccinate older people, those with health conditions and care facility workers.

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