THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
June 30, 2021 at 17:40 JST
A medical worker prepares a shot of Moderna vaccine in Chiba on June 21. (The Asahi Shimbun)
Japan will abandon restarting its highly touted mass vaccination campaign at workplaces and universities because demand for the doses has far exceeded supply, government sources said.
Inundated by applications from companies and universities, the government stopped accepting new ones as of 5 p.m. on June 25.
The inoculation campaign uses the Moderna vaccine. Taro Kono, the administrative reform minister who is in charge of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, has said Japan will not order additional supplies of Moderna vaccines.
At a news conference on June 29, Kono said he “will announce a policy of some kind” this week.
The announcement will likely be the decision not to restart that vaccination program, according to the sources.
The government started scrutinizing the applications to see if companies and universities have requested more doses than they need.
But a top official of the prime minister’s office said, “It is difficult to continue using Moderna vaccines for the workplace project.”
The government has promised to distribute 50 million doses of the Moderna vaccine, enough to inoculate 25 million people, by the end of September. Of that volume, 33 million doses are expected to go to companies that can inoculate at least 1,000 people as well as universities.
The application process began on June 8, and some companies and universities started inoculating staff and students from June 21.
As of 5 p.m. on June 25, applications for about 36.42 million doses were filed in the company-university program.
According to the sources, the remaining 17 million Moderna doses are expected to be used by local governments.
“Any leftover doses should be diverted to the mass vaccination programs of local governments,” the official at the prime minister’s office said.
Applications for about 12 million doses have been approved for local governments’ mass vaccination sites, while applications for another 12 million or so doses have been received but approval is pending.
To cover the expected shortage of Moderna vaccines for these sites, the government will divert Pfizer vaccines from municipal governments’ vaccination programs.
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