Japan’s vaccination rollout reaches daily rate of 1 mil – Nationwide
Japan’s daily rate of coronavirus vaccinations has reached a crucial milestone of 1 million, government data showed, as authorities scramble to recover lost time in inoculating the population. The figure is a critical threshold set by Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga to ensure that the nation’s sizeable elderly population is covered by the end of July, and all adults by November.
As the campaign has gained momentum, with vaccination sites opening at workplaces, the latest cabinet office figures show 1,013,061 doses injected on June 14, and just under 1 million on each of the three subsequent days. Just 18% of a population of 125 million has got at least one dose, a Reuters tracker shows, for the lowest level among major economies, with one month remaining until the start of the Summer Olympics in Tokyo, an event delayed by the pandemic.
The vaccination campaign began in mid-February, trailing most large economies, and initially hampered by scarce supplies of imported doses. But even as shipments increased, shortages of medical staff and logistics hurdles became acute. To speed things up, the government opened massive vaccination centres operated by the defence ministry and relaxed rules on recipients and those allowed to inject them.
Gov’t to begin issuing vaccine passports in July – Nationwide
Japan plans to issue so-called vaccine passports from around mid- to late July as more activities around the world open up to people who have been vaccinated against the coronavirus, the nation’s top government spokesman said. The government is asking other countries to exempt travellers carrying the documents that officially certify their vaccination status from quarantine or to shorten the quarantine period, government sources said earlier.
Business circles in Japan have been calling for the introduction of vaccine passports as economic activities reopen, hoping to revive travel. The European Union and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations are also introducing vaccination certificates for international travellers from their member states. The certificate, to be issued by municipalities using the central government’s records, will include the holder’s name, birthdate, passport number, date of vaccination and the vaccine manufacturer in Japanese and English.
Applicants will be asked to fill out documents at local government locations until an electronic format is developed. The certificate will be issued free of charge. The government will update the vaccination data system to record information both in Japanese and English before certificate applications start, the sources said.
For inbound travellers, Japan currently allows entry only to nationals and resident foreigners as well as foreigners with “special exceptional circumstances.” They must submit negative results for coronavirus tests taken within 72 hours prior to their flight departure and observe a 14-day quarantine period after entering Japan.
More companies, universities begin on-site vaccinations – Nationwide
Japan’s COVID-19 vaccination program for people aged under 65 got into full swing as universities and government ministries and agencies joined companies in launching on-site inoculations. With Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga aiming to complete vaccinations by November, the government has allowed companies and universities to launch their own inoculation programs for the under-65s.
The program is currently limited to companies with large workforces and universities with large student bodies. Further expansion of the vaccination rate will depend on whether the government can expand vaccinations to smaller universities, as well as small and midsized companies. The proportion of the population as a whole to have received two shots now stands at 3.6 percent, according to government data. A two-dose vaccine developed by U.S. biotech firm Moderna Inc is used for vaccinations at universities and workplaces, as is the case at mass vaccination sites run by the Self-Defence Forces and local governments.
Universities and companies are required to secure medical professionals and venues to provide shots, and many of those carrying out on-site inoculation programs are universities with medical faculties or major companies. Tohoku University, Hiroshima University, Keio University and Kindai University started programs, while Itochu Corp, Central Japan Railway Co, Toyota Motor Corp, Seven & i Holdings Co, Aeon, Suntory, Mori Building, NTT, SoftBank Group Corp, BIC Camera and Universal Studios Japan theme park also began inoculating employees. All Nippon Airways Co and Japan Airlines Co started their inoculation programs last week, earlier than the schedule set by the government.
As of the 18th of June, the government had accepted applications from companies and universities for inoculations of about 13.73 million people at 3,479 venues. The government lifted the coronavirus state of emergency on the 21st of June, covering nine prefectures including Tokyo and Osaka, leaving only Okinawa under it until July 11 as hospitals in the southern island prefecture remain under strain from a surge in COVID-19 patients.