Japan is considering introducing waiting lists for COVID-19 vaccinations to avoid waste, the minister in charge of inoculation effort said Sunday as the country prepares to expand the program's scope.

"We should prioritize not wasting vaccines, rather than sticking to the priority order" of inoculation, when scheduled vaccinations are canceled at the last minute, administrative and regulatory reform minister Taro Kono said on an evening TV program.

Kono indicated the central government will call on municipalities tasked with administering shots to come up with waiting list systems.

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Last week, Japan launched its initial phase of inoculation for 40,000 health care workers with a vaccine developed by U.S. drugmaker Pfizer Inc. and its German partner BioNTech SE.

A further 4.7 million frontline health workers are to begin receiving shots in March, followed by 36 million people aged 65 or older from April. Then, people with pre-existing conditions such as diabetes or heart disease and those working at elderly care facilities will come next, and finally the general population.

Kono also cast doubt on the idea of using COVID-19 vaccine certification for official purposes, including using it as a kind of vaccine passport to permit international travel, saying to do so would discriminate against those who cannot be inoculated against the respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus because of allergy.

"I don't think the international community will introduce a system preventing people from doing something unless they get shots," the former foreign minister said.