Japan opened large-scale vaccination facilities on Monday morning in Tokyo and Osaka Prefecture. Officials say they aim to inoculate Japan's 36 million seniors by the end of July.
The two venues are operated by the Self-Defense Forces. The newly-approved Moderna vaccine is being used at both. The Tokyo facility will administer 5,000 shots a day, while the one in Osaka will give out 2,500. The government says it hopes to double their combined capacity in the future.
A man who received a vaccination said he was glad that he got his first shot, and it went fairly smoothly. A woman said she felt like she has had to wait a long time to get her vaccination compared to other countries, and they could have started earlier.
From Monday, the two centers are expanding online reservations to include people aged 65 or older across all of Tokyo and Osaka Prefecture. Only seniors living in certain parts of the two areas had previously been allowed to make appointments. Those living in the neighboring prefectures of Chiba, Saitama, Kanagawa, Kyoto and Hyogo can reserve a spot starting next week.
The vaccination program began in February with health care workers before expanding to the elderly in April. Japan's rollout is lagging far behind the other G7 nations, as only four percent of its elderly have received at least one dose.
Japan reported more than 4,000 new coronavirus infections and over 60 deaths on Sunday. The health ministry said the number of COVID-19 patients with serious symptoms hit a record high on Sunday.
A total of 1,304 patients were on ventilators or were being treated in intensive care units as of Sunday night.
Ten prefectures are currently under a coronavirus state of emergency, with Okinawa added on Sunday. The declaration for nine prefectures, including Tokyo and Osaka, is scheduled to end on May 31. But with numbers still holding steady, officials are now considering extending the state of emergency to the same date as Okinawa -- June 20.