Japan's health ministry has decided to give seasonal flu shots to elderly people first, from October 1.
The decision was made on Friday amid concerns over simultaneous outbreaks of influenza and coronavirus infections, which are hard to distinguish.
Demand for flu vaccine is expected to surge. The ministry decided to give priority to people aged 65 or older because they face a higher risk of serious illness due to viral infections.
Officials say others should wait until October 26. But they're advising medical workers, people with preexisting conditions, pregnant women, and children ranging from six months old to second graders to get vaccinated early.
The officials say flu vaccines cannot completely prevent infections but can help prevent severe symptoms. They asked for cooperation so older people and others who need shots can be inoculated without fail.
The ministry expects flu vaccines for roughly 63 million adults to be available. But it's asking medical institutions not to buy in bulk, as a surge in orders may lead to a shortage of supplies.