A panel of experts appointed by the health ministry has approved a plan to allow dentists to administer COVID-19 vaccines if there are not enough doctors.

The plan comes amid concerns about possible shortages of doctors and nurses to carry out group vaccinations in major cities, with vaccinations for older people set to start in earnest as early as next month.

In Japan, only doctors, or nurses under the instruction of doctors, are legally allowed to inject vaccines.

But the health ministry believes that it would not be illegal for trained dentists to give vaccines with the consent of vaccine recipients if local governments have difficulties securing enough doctors, the panel found Friday.

While dentists have basic injection skills, the ministry plans to train them, including in ways to deal with anaphylactic reactions by people who have been vaccinated.

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