Vaccine rollout accelerates in Japan

The coronavirus vaccine rollout is accelerating nationwide. Officials say about 70 percent of healthcare workers have been fully vaccinated, and more than 20 percent of the elderly have received their first shot.

Over 170,000 people have received vaccines at large-scale inoculation centers in Tokyo and Osaka. The Osaka site became available to elderly residents of neighboring prefectures on Monday.

These prefectures are under a state of emergency until June 20. New infections are on the decline in many of them, but they remain high in Okinawa.

Many schools in the southern prefecture are temporarily closing from Monday. High schools have switched to online classes so students can continue to study from home.

Two weeks before the state of emergency is scheduled to end, more people are going to shopping and entertainment districts. Health experts are warning that this could lead to a rebound in the number of infections.

Toho University Professor Tateda Kazuhiro says, "Even if the number of new cases drops, it could start to surge again in two or three weeks. We should be aware of the risk that such a spike could lead to a fifth wave of infections." Tateda also notes that vaccines are not fully effective until several weeks after the second shot.

Authorities across Japan confirmed more than 1,200 new infections on Monday. The tally tends to be low at the beginning of each week because fewer virus tests are conducted on weekends.