Most Japanese medical staff not totally vaccinated as Olympics looms

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A nurse (R) checks a computer with the hospital director Dr. Yutaka Kobayashi in the coronavirus department of Sakura General Hospital on February 10, 2021 in Oguchi, Japan.

Carl Court | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Less than 30% of Japanese medical professionals were vaccinated against Covid-19 in major cities just 65 days before the Tokyo Olympics began, the Nikkei newspaper reported on Wednesday.

Cabinet figures released this week showed that three months after Japan’s Covid-19 vaccination surge, less than 40% of all medical workers in the country were fully vaccinated.

The problem is particularly pronounced in the Tokyo Games host city and other major population centers, where the rate of fully vaccinated medical workers was less than 30%, the Nikkei reported.

Much of the vaccine supply has been concentrated in large hospitals and there have been problems with the reservation systems for medical staff, the newspaper said.

The slow introduction of doctors and nurses was one of the complaints made by medical groups who opposed hosting the Games as Japan struggled to contain a surge in infections.

The government aims to vaccinate most of its 36 million people over 65 by the end of July. To achieve this goal, the government is hoping to fire about 1 million shots a day, about three times faster than the current pace.

So far, only 3.7% of Japan’s 126 million people have received at least one Covid-19 vaccine, the lowest rate among rich countries. Initially, the problem was poor supply of the vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech, the only one to have been approved by regulators.

But inbound shipments of the Pfizer shot increased dramatically in May, and the government is expected to approve Moderna’s candidates for use in mass vaccination centers this week.

The shot developed by AstraZeneca is also checked by national regulators.

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