Vaccines for elderly 'to be secured by June 30'

The minister in charge of Japan's COVID-19 vaccination program says he thinks the government will be able to secure enough vaccine doses to give two shots each to about 36 million senior citizens by the end of June.

Vaccinations of senior citizens, who will have turned 65 or older by the end of the current fiscal year, will begin next Monday.

Regulatory Reform Minister Kono Taro told reporters on Friday that the amount of vaccines Japan can secure during June is now being confirmed, but it still depends on export approval by the European Union.

He said the government is expected to be able to quickly deliver vaccines in response to demand by the middle of next month.

He expressed hope that inoculations by municipalities will be fully underway by that time.

He added that municipalities with smaller populations would then be able to proceed more quickly to the next stage of the vaccination program, where people with underlying health conditions are targeted.

Kono noted that there are people who cannot receive vaccines due to allergies or other reasons. He said the government will draw up vaccination guidelines to protect them from possible disadvantages.