• Kyodo

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Forty-three of Japan’s 47 prefectural capitals, or 91.5%, will finish their initial two-dose COVID-19 vaccine rollout by the end of this month, a Kyodo News survey showed Saturday, as local governments prepare to move onto the next phase of the inoculation program.

A health ministry panel has approved the administration of booster shots of U.S. pharmaceutical giant Pfizer Inc.’s COVID-19 vaccine to people aged 18 and over, starting with medical personnel from December.

According to a government tally released Friday, 94.58 million people, or 74.7%, of the nation’s population of around 125 million people have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, with almost 100 million having received at least one dose.

The central government has called on local governments to wrap up their initial vaccination programs in early November, but in the absence of clear criteria many have aimed to finish once vaccination rates hit the 70% range.

The survey, which was conducted across Japan from Nov. 5 through last Wednesday, found that 15 prefectural capitals have already concluded their initial vaccination program.

Of these, eight cities including Nagoya and Fukuoka said they finished in the latter half of October, while seven others such as Yokohama and Okayama said they finished in early November.

Among the other 28 prefectural capitals to conclude their rollout this month, 21 said they planned to do so in the week of Nov. 29.

Three cities finished their rollout with vaccination rates of 80% or more, including Yamagata, which had the highest rate at 81.3%.

Twenty-seven cities finished, or will finish, in the 70% range, while the remainder said they would finish in the 60% range or did not respond.

Government data showed that among people aged 65 and over, 91% had been fully vaccinated as of Nov. 8, compared with 69.3% of people in their 30s, 66.0% in their 20s and 60.8% of those aged between 12 and 19.

According to the University of Oxford’s Our World in Data project, Japan’s vaccination rate was almost on a par with Canada, which leads the Group of Seven nations at 75.1%, as of Thursday.

Vaccination rates in the United States and Britain, which were initially far ahead of Japan in inoculating their populations, stood at 57.4% and 67.4%, respectively.

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