The Japan government on Monday announced that mass Covid-19 vaccination site in Tokyo will offer jabs to the police, fire fighters, Coast Guard officials, in addition to the elderly in a bid to speed up the country’s inoculation drive.

“We are targeting officials in charge of crisis management such as disaster response as a temporary measure to effectively utilise inoculation capacity,” a Defence Ministry official was quoted by local media as saying.

At large, at state-run vaccination sites in Tokyo and Osaka, numerous slots have been left open by elderly people eligible to be vaccinated and people who have made reservations yet not turning up, Xinhua news agency reported citing local media reports as saying.

In a bid to not waste the slots, the government will from Monday in Tokyo open up the slots to Self-Defense Forces (SDF) personnel, members of the National Police Agency, Fire and Disaster Management Agency and the Japan Coast Guard.

The Tokyo centre is capable of administering 10,000 jabs per day, while its equivalent in Osaka can give out 5,000 shots.

The mass vaccination sites will also start allowing vaccination reservations from people aged under 65 with pre-existing health conditions if the take-up at the large venues remains slow, top government spokesperson Katsunobu Kato said on Monday.

Local reports said that over 60 per cent of the slots at the mass vaccination centres run by the SDF remain vacant for two weeks through June 27.

Meanwhile, companies and universities are also gearing up to pitch in.

The government, under heavy criticism for being the slowest among a number of advanced economies to rollout its vaccination drive, said that it has so far received applications for more than 9 million people to be vaccinated at 1,821 companies or universities.

Kato has said the new inoculation campaign is aimed at speeding up the country’s vaccination rollout and help reduce the burden on local municipalities.

He said that the workplaces and universities will be in charge of deciding who gets vaccinated, although recommended that the elderly and those with underlying health conditions be given priority.

The companies and universities will also be in charge of sourcing their own medical personnel to administer the jabs amid the nation’s dire lack of qualified medical personnel, he added.

–IANS

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