The Japanese panel says people over the age of 65 should be given priority against the COVID vaccine

PHOTO FILE: An elderly woman wearing a face mask walks through a Buddhist temple in the Asakusa district, a popular sightseeing spot, amid an outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19) in Tokyo, Japan, July 22, 2020. REUTERS / Issei Kato / File photo

TOKYO (Reuters) – A panel at Japan’s health ministry said on Friday that people over the age of 65 should be given priority for vaccination against COVID-19, as the government sets guidelines that will also prioritize health workers and those with health conditions. .

The panel also listed, among other things, chronic heart disease, chronic respiratory disease and chronic kidney disease, as basic conditions that should determine the priority for the vaccine.

The recommendations would cover 36 million elderly people and 8.2 million people with health conditions from the first group that received vaccines.

Another government council this week recommended that priority be given to health workers in the forefront and workers in nursing homes, while the elderly and those with a basic health condition should also be given priority.

Japan with a population of 126 million has agreements to purchase 290 million doses of vaccines from Pfizer Inc., AstraZeneca Plc and Modern Inc., or enough for 145 million people.

Japan is currently facing the third wave of coronavirus infections, which puts the national system under a heavy load.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga will hold a press conference Friday on the government’s response to the pandemic.

Reporting Kiyoshi Takenaka; Edited by Shri Navaratnam and Edmund Klamann