A 62-year-old mayor in western Japan has received the first dose of the novel coronavirus vaccine although he is not eligible under current regulations in the country, which preserve the inoculations for those age 65 or older and medical workers.
Admitting that he received the shot on May 6, the first day of mass vaccination in the town of Kamikawa, Hyogo Prefecture, Sogo Yamana said Wednesday he did it for the sake of "crisis management" in the town.
Yamana, founder of a public hospital in the town, also justified getting the shot ahead of his age cohort by citing infection risks at the hospital where he attends meetings once or twice a week.
According to the mayor, the dose he received would have gone unused due to the cancellation of a vaccination appointment.
In late April, Yamana consulted with his deputy Yoshito Maeda about the possibility of receiving the shot before he would otherwise be eligible according to the age limit. After Maeda discussed the matter with the hospital's chief administrator, Yamana was told he could be vaccinated if a dose became available due to cancellation.
"I confirmed that my shot would not cause any institutional issue," the mayor said, adding that he plans to receive a second dose if one becomes available in a similar fashion.
Compared with the United States and other major Western countries, Japan has lagged in COVID-19 vaccination, limiting it to the elderly and medical workers even as the July 23 start date of the Tokyo Olympics draws nearer.