Japan is expected to secure COVID-19 vaccine doses for all elderly people in the country by the end of June, Taro Kono, the minister in charge of the vaccination program’s rollout, has said.
With supply plans for June now almost worked out, enough doses to vaccinate some 36 million people aged 65 or older twice will be procured by the end of that month, Kono said Friday.
“We will deliver the vaccines in accordance with the inoculation programs of municipalities across the country,” he told a news conference.
Kono’s remarks came as the health ministry asserted that the vaccines are less likely to cause side effects for those 65 or older.
The interim finding was reported at a meeting of the ministry’s expert panel on the relationship between coronavirus vaccines and side effects.
Japan is slated to begin administering vaccines to elderly citizens from Monday.
The ministry surveyed some 20,000 medical workers for whom vaccinations began in February.
Of all workers surveyed, 38% experienced fevers of over 37.5 degrees Celsius after their second shot of the vaccine developed by U.S. drugmaker Pfizer Inc.
For those aged 65 or older, however, the percentage was only 9%.
Elderly vaccine recipients were also less likely to experience headaches and sluggishness of the whole body after their inoculations.
But only 482 surveyed workers were aged 65 or older and received both shots of the Pfizer vaccine.
Suminobu Ito, visiting professor at Juntendo University and a member of a ministry research team, said that “the frequency of fevers for the elderly is only about 10%, which is not significantly high.”
According to the health ministry, 1.1 million coronavirus vaccine shots were administered in Japan between Feb. 17 and Sunday.
There were 350 suspected anaphylaxis cases reported by medical institutions after vaccinations, of which 79 met international standards for recognizing the symptoms. All those who experienced anaphylactic shock have basically recovered.
Four new deaths following vaccinations were also reported at the expert panel meeting.
These involved people aged between 62 and 72, and the causes of death included cerebral hemorrhage. The deaths were reported as either unrelated to the vaccinations or unable to be evaluated.
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