The central government is urging local governments to prepare to administer COVID-19 inoculations, but the local governments are not given concrete information on the distribution schedule or the number of vaccines they will receive.
The Nikkei asked 20 ordinance-designated cities and Tokyo’s 23 wards about the status of their preparations as of the end of January and found that almost none of them have enlisted a sufficient number of doctors to vaccinate residents.
Thirty-eight cities and wards, or 97% of respondents, said either that they are “currently negotiating with doctors” or that they have “not been able to secure doctors.” The person in charge at Chiyoda Ward said, “We cannot book the doctors’ time unless we know when we will start administering vaccinations.”
“Unfortunately, we cannot provide a concrete schedule for vaccine distribution at this point,” said Minister of Administrative Reform Taro Kono on Feb. 3. “I apologize that the situation is causing trouble for local governments.” Kono is in charge of the nationwide vaccine distribution program.
Hospitals that are treating coronavirus patients are already suffering from a shortage of doctors and nurses and will find it difficult to participate in the vaccination effort. The government will need to coordinate with private hospitals and clinics to secure the necessary number of medical personnel. (Abridged)