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The Self-Defense Forces will extend the opening period for the mass COVID-19 vaccination venues it operates in Tokyo and Osaka for about a month until late September, informed sources said Sunday.

The SDF plans to maintain the daily pace of vaccinating 10,000 citizens at the Tokyo venue and 5,000 people at the center in Osaka, according to the sources.

The mass vaccination venues, set up on May 24, were initially scheduled operate for only three months.

Since late June, the two venues have been mostly used for administering second shots to people aged 65 or older, with only a few new appointments accepted.

But the SDF judged that demand for vaccinations at the two sites remains strong since daily appointment quotas have been filled up since the scope of those eligible for shots there were expanded to cover residents aged 18 or older from across Japan.

As the second shots for elderly people are expected to near completion later this month, creating room for new bookings, the SDF will extend the venues' operation period until late September so that newly eligible residents can get their shots.

As the Osaka International Convention Center, which has offered the venue in the city, is also used for events, there was a proposal for extending the operation period of the Tokyo venue alone.

But after the Osaka municipal government signaled plans to sharply reduce the number of inoculations it is administering due to a shortage of vaccine supplies, the SDF decided to extend the mass vaccination period at the venue there.

According to the Defense Ministry, a cumulative total of about 700,000 doses have been administered at the two venues as of July 11.

The SDF will continue to accept appointments at both sites via the internet and by phone.

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