Japan hopes to begin giving 1 million doses of booster shots daily to prevent an outbreak of infections triggered from the extremely transmissible Omicron variant, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told reporters on Monday.
The number of reported cases increased to 100,000 per day in the first instance in a week. Yet, only 4.8 percent of Japan’s 125 million inhabitants had been given a third shot at the time of last Friday’s announcement, according to the government.
Kishida handed out the directions in a conference meeting with the health ministry Shigeyuki Goto and Cabinet ministers involved with coronavirus countermeasures in the Diet building in the early morning of February 7. This is much lower than Britain, France, and Germany, where more than 50 percent of the population have received shots to boost immunity. “By establishing a clear target, the government as a whole will try to get shots to people who want to be vaccinated as quickly as possible,” Kishida said during a parliamentary session.
“The third shots are critical to preventing the development of symptoms and serious sickness against the extremely contagious Omicron variant,” Kishida said, adding that booster shots for institutions and businesses would begin in mid-February. Junya Ogawa of Japan’s main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party said in the Diet that Kishida’s goal to administer 1 million shots each day was “one or two steps behind.” However, Kishida claimed that a period of six months between third and second shots is required.
Before the session, Kishida enjoined health minister Shigeyuki Goto and other cabinet ministers involved in launching vaccination programs carried out by local municipalities, improving the effectiveness of vaccination at work, and promoting vaccines to all workers, including teachers.
“I wanted to reduce my chances of being critically ill. My anxiousness has subsided”, Kosei Inokuma of Ashiya, Hyogo Prefecture, stated a 22-year-old student at a university in the prefecture’s neighbor who has medical conditions that may see him suffer severe symptoms when infected by the virus.
The Osaka site is joining the same venue in Tokyo, which was relaunched last week and has increased the number of immunizations over the previous week to 2,160 shots per day. The number of shots is scheduled to increase to 4,080 on Tuesday and 5,040 on Thursday.
Hideki Matsubara, a 25-year old public employee of Matsudo, Chiba Prefecture, was grateful for the booster shot since his city has yet to get one. “I wanted to get it as soon as possible because my job requires face-to-face encounters with people,” the man told the Tokyo center. He also expressed his desire to book an earlier date, but the slots already had a full schedule.
The SDF has opened centers in both cities, following a decision last year. This came amid complaints that the government has not been quick to provide booster shots.The stores are providing the vaccine developed in the U.S. by U.S. pharmaceutical company Moderna Inc through July 31 to those 18 or older who have received their second dose at least six months before the date of their first shot. The Osaka venue initially provides the facility with 960 shots per day, but Kishida announced on Monday that he would raise the capacity to 2500 shots per day starting around February 14.
The Defense Ministry said it is looking at several buildings in Western Japan city to increase the capabilities of Osaka center since the existing building can accommodate just 960 people. “We will take an extra cautious approach with respect to preventive measures at the site in proceeding (with the booster program) so that cluster cases will never happen,” said Lt. Col. Masaaki Tanichi, 42, who is the head of vaccines for Osaka, Osaka center. Kishida has been faced with numerous requests to expand capacities at the Tokyo center, which offered 10,000 shots per day in the last year.
Slots until Sunday, April 28 in the Tokyo center, and beginning of the week, Osaka. Osaka sites are full, according to the ministry. Kishida also stated that the government is looking for a quick decision on making an oral COVID medication made in Japan available.
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