The Japanese panel says that people aged 65 and over should get the COVID vaccine priority

TOKYO (Reuters) – A group from the Japanese health ministry said on Friday that people aged 65 and over should get priority for vaccination against COVID-19 as the government sets guidelines that will prioritize operators as well. frontline health professionals and those with medical conditions.

FILE PHOTO: An elderly woman wearing a protective mask walks into a Buddhist temple in Asakusa district, a popular tourist spot, amidst the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak in Tokyo, Japan, July 22, 2020. REUTERS / Issei Kato / Photo file

The group also specified chronic heart disease, chronic respiratory disease, and chronic kidney disease, among others, as underlying conditions that should prioritize the vaccine.

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

Another government committee this week recommended prioritizing frontline medical professionals and aged care facility workers, while seniors and people with underlying health conditions should also be given priority.

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

Japan is currently facing a third wave of coronavirus infections, putting a strain on the nation’s medical system.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga will hold a press conference on Friday from 6pm (9am GMT) on the government’s response to the pandemic.

Five national groups of doctors and other health workers made an emergency request to Suga and Health Minister Norihisa Tamura on Friday, calling for strong anti-infection measures and support for the medical sector.

With hospitals equipped for COVID-19 patients filling up, other hospitals are being forced to accept them, said Tsuyoshi Masuda, president of the Japanese Federation of Democratic Medical Institutions, one of the groups.

“Of course, they run a much higher risk of internal infection than those equipped to treat COVID-19 patients,” Masuda said at a news conference.

“These small and medium-sized hospitals, which have supported medical services in their respective regions, are facing a crisis that threatens their survival.”

Tokyo reported 884 coronavirus infections on Friday, close to a record of 888 on Thursday.

Reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka; Editing by Shri Navaratnam, Edmund Klamann and William Mallard