Japan opened large-scale state-run coronavirus vaccination centers in Tokyo and Osaka on Monday, May 24, in a bid to accelerate the country’s inoculation program with two months until the Tokyo Olympics.
The centers are run by the eSelf-Defense Forces and will operate for three months from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. including weekends and national holidays. The program aims to inoculate up to 10,000 people a day in Tokyo and 5,000 in Osaka, in hopes to meet its target to complete vaccinations by the end of July of people aged 65 or older, along with those turning 65 in the current fiscal year.
However, to avoid causing the reservation system to be overwhelmed, the first week of vaccinations at the centers is restricted to residents of Tokyo’s 23 wards and the city of Osaka.
49,000 slots at the Tokyo site and 24,500 at the Osaka venue were immediately filled after the Defense Ministry started accepting reservations on May 17 on its website and via the Line messaging app.
The inoculations have been conducted by local governments using the vaccine developed by U.S. pharmaceutical company Pfizer Inc. and its German partner BioNTech SE.
Some military doctors and nurses, as well as private nurses who run vaccination centers in Tokyo and Osaka, became the first to receive Moderna shots on Sunday, according to the Defense Ministry.