Japan has administered COVID-19 vaccine doses to more than 10 million people, the Prime Minister's Office said Wednesday, as the country tries to speed up inoculations that are lagging far behind other developed countries.
A total of 4,653,566 medical personnel and 5,734,023 people aged 65 and over had received at least one shot of vaccine as of Tuesday, equivalent to 8 percent of the country's population of 126 million.
Of them, around 3.6 million people, equivalent to roughly 3 percent of the population, were fully vaccinated after receiving a second shot. The figure includes 3.13 million medical personnel and around 470,000 senior citizens.
The government expects vaccinations of medical personnel to be completed in 10 to 20 days if the current pace is maintained.
Facing criticism for the slow coronavirus vaccine rollout, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has called for up to 1 million doses to be administered nationwide each day after mid-June and vaccinations of people aged 65 and over to be completed by the end of July.
To help accelerate the pace, the government has set up mass inoculation centers in Tokyo and Osaka, operated by the Self-Defense Forces, to administer up to a combined total of 15,000 jabs per day.
Universities and companies are also preparing to start on-site vaccination of younger age groups later this month.
Trading house Itochu Corp. said it will start inoculating around 7,500 Japan-based employees from June 21. Japan Airlines Co. plans to provide shots to flight crew, while Toyota Motor Corp. has said it is also considering vaccinations at workplaces.
A dearth of doctors and nurses to give shots is one of the key factors behind Japan's slow inoculation program, which is lagging behind other developed countries.
The government has already added dentists to the list of medical professionals authorized to give shots, and is exploring other potential vaccinators including former nurses and paramedics.