Elderly vaccination pace varies among cities

SUNDAY, JUNE 13, 2021

TOKYO - Saturday marked two months since the start of Japans COVID-19 inoculation campaign for people aged 65 and up.

According to a Yomiuri Shimbun review of vaccination progress in the nation's 74 major municipalities, only 19 municipalities have given over 40% of their elderly populations at least one dose as of June 11. Chuo Ward in Tokyo led the municipalities surveyed, administering at least one dose to 70.9% of its nearly 25,000 elderly residents.

The survey found that four cities -- including Sakai, Osaka Prefecture -- have administered a first shot to over 50% of their populations, while another 14 cities -- including Yamaguchi -- have cleared the 40% threshold. Rounding out the bottom of the list were 15 municipalities where fewer than 20% of elderly residents had received their first shot.

As early as February, officials in Tokyo's Chuo Ward began enlisting the assistance of local medical associations and other groups to line up a roster of qualified vaccinators by the time the ward's vaccination venues opened their doors on May 2.

Similar quick initial responses were observed across other municipalities that had logged high vaccination rates.

Vaccination of the nation's over-65 demographic -- all 36 million in total -- began on April 12. A running tally of people who have received shots has since been kept in the government's Vaccination Record System (VRS) database.

According to government figures, the number of elderly who had received their first dose passed the 10 million mark on Thursday, bringing the elderly national ratio to 29%.

The government has said it aims to complete vaccination of all elderly who want shots by the end of July.