Who gets vaccine priority?

This is part 76 of our coronavirus FAQ. Click here to read other installments: #Coronavirus the facts. Find the latest information and answers from experts on everything COVID-19.

Who is given priority?

Japan’s health ministry started vaccinating medical workers on February 17. Next in line are people aged 65 years or older, starting on April 12. They will be followed by those working at facilities for the elderly and people with underlying conditions.

The ministry plans to allow some nursing home staff to be vaccinated at the same time as the people they care for to prevent cluster infections at the facilities. A doctor will have to be present on-site to monitor the conditions of the elderly while the staff are recovering from the shot.

The ministry will also give in-home nursing care providers priority under certain conditions so that elderly people who are infected can receive treatment at home. The measure will be implemented due to the strain on hospitals that are struggling with a lack of beds.

The vaccine will only be given to those who want it. If an elderly person cannot clearly state their choice, the ministry urges the family to make a decision with the help of doctors.

What pre-existing medical conditions qualify for priority?

Japan's health ministry has drafted a list of conditions to clarify who will be given priority for the vaccine. They include chronic heart and kidney diseases, respiratory disorders, illnesses causing immunity impairment such as cancer, and sleep apnea.

Patients will not be required to submit a certificate as proof of their conditions. They will instead be asked to fill out a questionnaire before receiving the shot.

People with a body mass index, or BMI, of 30 or more will also be given priority. 8.2 million people in Japan are above this threshold.

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