As the nation scrambles to secure special syringes to maximize the number of COVID-19 vaccine shots that can be used from each vial, manufacturers are struggling to ramp up production quickly, raising fears that millions of doses could go waste.

Japan, with a population of 126 million, signed a contract last month with Pfizer Inc. to buy 144 million doses of its vaccine, or enough for 72 million people, with the vaccination campaign set to start on Wednesday.

One vial is meant to provide six shots, Pfizer says, but drawing that volume of vaccine from the vial requires special syringes that minimize waste. Using the standard syringes the government has set aside in preparation for the inoculation drive, only five shots can be dispensed from each vial.