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Japan panel says people 65 or older should get COVID-19 vaccine priority

Japan panel says people 65 or older should get COVID-19 vaccine priority

Pedestrians wearing protective masks amid the COVID-19 pandemic make their way at a shopping district in Tokyo on Dec 17, 2020. (Photo: Reuters/Kim Kyung-Hoon)

TOKYO: A Japanese health ministry panel said on Friday (Dec 25) that people aged 65 or older should get priority for vaccination against COVID-19 as the government sets guidelines that will also prioritise frontline healthcare workers and those with medical conditions.

The panel also specified chronic heart disease, chronic respiratory disease and chronic kidney disease, among others, as underlying conditions that should determine priority for the vaccine.

The recommendations would include 36 million elderly people and 8.2 million people with medical conditions in the first group to receive vaccine shots.

READ: Japan doctors' group, others declare medical emergency over COVID-19

Another government panel this week recommended that priority be given to frontline medical professionals and workers at elderly care facilities, while the elderly and those with underlying health conditions should also receive priority.

Japan, with a population of 126 million, has agreements to buy 290 million vaccine doses from Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Moderna, or enough for 145 million people.

READ: Japan to ban entry of non-citizens coming from the UK over new COVID-19 virus strain

Japan is currently facing a third wave of COVID-19 infections, putting the nation's medical system under heavy strain.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga will hold a news conference on Friday about the government response to the pandemic.

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Source: Reuters/mi

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