The Japan News by The Yomiuri Shimbun
Most major cities to boost elderly vaccine campaigns
This month, about 70% of 74 major municipalities including prefectural capitals will start widespread administration of COVID-19 vaccinations for senior citizens, not limited to residents of elderly facilities, according to a Yomiuri Shimbun survey of municipal governments.
Fifty-two cities and Tokyo wards will start inoculations for elderly residents in May. Sixteen municipalities, or about 20%, have already started the vaccinations, which are expected to get into full swing after the Golden Week holidays.
The central government is asking municipal governments to move forward inoculation schedules so vaccinations for elderly residents can be completed by the end of July.
The vaccination program for about 36 million elderly people 65 and over began on April 12. To prevent outbreaks of cluster infections, many municipalities have started vaccinating residents of elderly facilities first, but local governments have been receiving inquiries from senior citizens who do not live in such facilities.
The Yomiuri Shimbun surveyed prefectural capitals, government ordinance-designated cities and Tokyo’s 23 wards about the status of their vaccination campaigns, including scheduling, for elderly residents as of April 30.
According to the survey, 13 municipalities, including Nakano Ward in Tokyo and the cities of Nagoya and Hiroshima, have already started vaccinating senior citizens who do not live at elderly care facilities. At least about 12,000 elderly residents have been vaccinated. Three local governments started the vaccinations during the holiday season. In Setagaya Ward, Tokyo, about 550 elderly people were vaccinated on Monday at two different sites.
Meanwhile, 35 municipalities, including the cities of Chiba, Kobe and Kumamoto, said they plan to start elderly vaccinations in early to mid-May, and 17 municipalities, including Chiyoda Ward in Tokyo and the cities of Osaka and Naha, said they would start in late May. Sendai and Mito are not expected to start the vaccinations until June or later.
Municipalities cited such issues as that the central government initially did not provide detailed vaccine supply schedules and that sufficient amounts of vaccine were not supplied.
Inoculations for medical workers started in February but the vaccine supply was delayed. Some municipalities said doses that had been intended for elderly residents were diverted to the vaccination campaign for medical workers.
At least 1,000 of the nation’s 1,741 municipalities are expected to complete vaccinations for elderly residents by the end of July, in line with the government’s target.
According to the government, only about 650 municipalities had initially planned to meet the target. After Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said at a press conference on April 23 that the vaccinations would be completed by the end of July, the government checked the status of all municipalities and found that the number had increased to more than 1,000, or about 60% of the total, as of April 28.
“The number of municipalities that bring forward their targets to the end of July is expected to increase further,” a senior government official said. (May 5)