Japan will open a mass vaccination center in central Tokyo next month, officials reported on Tuesday, part of the country’s bid to accelerate its coronavirus vaccination campaign as the Olympic Games looms.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato told reporters that no decision has been made on which vaccine will be used or how many people will get jabs each day.
“We will announce the details once the defense ministry and local authorities have come up with a plan,” Kato said. The government will also support inoculation efforts in Osaka, in western Japan, he added.
Japan imposed a 3rd state of emergency in its major population centers on Sunday, as the country attempts to fight a 4th wave of infections with just 87 days remaining until the Olympics is set to begin.
The Defense Ministry tweeted it had been asked by Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga to set up the center by May 24 with plans for it to operate for 3 months. The facility will service residents in the capital and the surrounding prefectures of Kanagawa, Saitama and Chiba.
On Sunday, the Nikkei newspaper reported the Tokyo center would inoculate nearly 10,000 people a day, while the Kyodo news service on Monday reported the government planned to use the Moderna Inc COVID-19 vaccine.
Japan started inoculating its sizable elderly population this month but only around 1.5% of the country’s entire 126 million population has been vaccinated, according to a Reuters tracker.
Officials have so far been dependent on limited imported jabs of Pfizer Inc’s vaccine.
Nonetheless, vaccine minister Taro Kono has said he expects the program to pick up in May when Pfizer shipments are set to accelerate. Domestic regulators are expected to make a decision next month on Moderna’s vaccine, of which the government has arranged to buy 50 million shots. The government has also arranged to buy 120 million jabs of AstraZeneca Plc’s vaccine, which is also in the approval process.
Japan has registered around 564,000 COVID-19 infections, including 9,969 fatalities.