Tokyo steps up bid to vaccinate its younger population ahead of next month’s Olympics as city begins to invite under 65s to book appointments amid concerns fourth wave could yet see the Games cancelled
A mass vaccination centre in Tokyo will begin booking covid jabs for people under 65 from Saturday, the Sankei Newspaper reported on Thursday, as Japan ramps up efforts to inoculate people before the 2020 Olympics open next month.
Japan began vaccinating frontline health workers and elderly people in February, but the slow pace compared with other major industrialised nations has spurred calls for the Tokyo Games to be delayed once more, or even cancelled.
Many Japanese are worried the country is unprepared to host tens of thousands of foreign athletes and Olympic officials as its healthcare system struggles with a fourth wave of infections.
Tokyo officials are doing all they can to ensure the Olympics can go ahead in the city in July
The Tokyo vaccination centre will also begin taking appointments by telephone for the first time from Saturday, in addition to online bookings in a bid to encourage more people to use the centre.
A spokeswoman at the Ministry of Defence, which operates the site, declined to comment.
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said on Wednesday that Japan aims to finish vaccinating all citizens requesting shots by November at the latest. That may require around 1 million injections a day.
With less than 50 days before the Olympics begin, Japan has vaccinated just over a tenth of its population with at least one dose. Organisers this month will decide whether to allow people in Japan to attend events after earlier banning overseas spectators.
The Japanese capital is ramping up its attempts to vaccinate as many citizens as possible
In a sign of continued concern about the risk of more infections during the Games, however, the governor of Chiba prefecture on Thursday cancelled plans for an outdoor Olympic viewing site in a park that would have drawn thousands of people.
‘We have decided to cancel plans for the live site,’ Toshihito Kumagai said at a press briefing broadcast by local media.
Neighbouring Tokyo, Chiba prefecture is due to host four Olympic events – surfing, fencing, wrestling and taekwondo – and four Paralympic events. On Wednesday, the prefecture recorded 106 new COVID-19 cases compared with 440 in Tokyo.