• Jiji, Kyodo, Staff Report

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About 40% of the nation's major cities have yet to determine when they can finish vaccinating people age 65 or over against the novel coronavirus, a survey has shown.

The Jiji Press group survey found that as of the end of February, 43 major cities had yet to decide when they might end vaccinations for older people. They have been unable to set clear vaccination schedules due to a lack of information about vaccine supply from the central government, the survey showed.

The survey jointly conducted by Jiji Press and affiliate Research Institute on Local Administration and Finance covered 109 major cities, including Tokyo's 23 wards, with valid answers coming from 108.

In the survey, a municipal government official of Kawaguchi, Saitama Prefecture, said the city was "unable to clarify a timeline due to uncertainties over the amount of vaccines to be supplied."

In Kobe, an official said, "The schedule depends on the amount and timing of vaccine supply."

The survey showed that 30 cities plan to finish vaccinations for older people around the end of June, while 24 expect to complete such inoculations around the end of July.

Vaccinations for older people in 11 cities are projected to end between August and March next year.

A total of 89 cities said they plan to start vaccinations for older people by the end of April.

Japan is in the process of inoculating some 4.8 million health care workers nationwide before the rollout to people age 65 and older on April 12. People with pre-existing conditions, such as diabetes, and those working at nursing care facilities, are slated to come next.

A total of 781,655 people had received their first shots as of 5 p.m. Friday, with 41,204 of them having received the second shot, according to the health ministry.

The vaccine developed by Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech SE was the first to be approved for use in Japan in February.

Britain's AstraZeneca PLC filed for the approval of its COVID-19 vaccine in early February, followed by U.S. biotechnology company Moderna Inc. earlier this month.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has pledged to secure enough COVID-19 vaccines for Japan's population of 126 million within the first half of 2021.

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