The Japanese COVID-19 vaccine plan favors health care workers and the elderly

The health ministry said on Friday that people over the age of 65 or older would be given a second priority to be vaccinated against the new coronavirus after medical and other workers who have frequent contact with infected people.

The third priority will be given to people with 14 types of basic health conditions, including chronic respiratory diseases, heart disease, diabetes, obesity and cancer.

The Ministry proposed vaccination policy at a meeting of the Health Science Council working group. The plan was mostly approved.

The ministry plans to decide whether to grant regulatory approval to the COVID-19 vaccine from US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer Inc. by February of the following year.

According to the vaccination schedule shown by the Ministry to local authorities, the first priority for vaccination will be given to medical workers, ambulance crews and public health center staff, a total of about four million people.

Once the Pfizer vaccine is approved, Japan will be ready to vaccinate such workers by the end of March.

Vaccinations will begin as early as the end of February for about 10,000 medical workers who want to be vaccinated beforehand, so that the ministry can confirm whether it is endangered by their health condition.

It is estimated that 36 million people aged 65 or over, who are at higher risk of developing severe COVID-19 symptoms, will have a second priority for shooting. Vaccination for them will begin in late March or early April.

Third on the list of priorities for vaccination will be people under the age of 65 with underlying diseases, who will be vaccinated in April or later. Obese people who will be covered by the program will be those with a body mass index of 30 or higher.

It is estimated that people aged 20 to 64 with underlying diseases make up about 8.2 million people.

Those taking the vaccine will not need to obtain disease certificates from medical facilities. Instead, they will be required to volunteer for questionnaires.

Approximately 2 million workers in nursing homes will also receive the third priority.

Pregnant women will not have priority in vaccination due to insufficient knowledge about the safety and efficacy of the vaccine for them.

If a sufficient supply of vaccines is available, the ministry will consider vaccinating about 7.5 million people between the ages of 60 and 64 without basic conditions at about the same time as those with basic diseases.

Including them, the total number of people given priority in vaccination will approach 58 million.

The government has reached a broad agreement with Pfizer to procure COVID-19 vaccines for 60 million people by the end of June next year.

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