Japan ends large-scale COVID-19 vaccination program

Japan ends large-scale COVID-19 vaccination program

TOKYO Jiji Press - A large-scale vaccination program against COVID 19 has ended at sites in Tokyo and Osaka, western Japan, with ceremonies marking the completion at the two venues on Sunday.

Since their opening in 2021, a total of 2.48 million doses of novel coronavirus vaccine were given at the sites.

The designation of COVID-19 under the infectious disease law is set to be lowered in May from Category II as the reservations have decreased markedly in line with a recent plunge in new infection cases.

A ceremony in Tokyo, held in a common government building in the Otemachi district of the Japanese capital, Chiyoda Ward, brought together about 30 participants including SDF members.

Defence Minister Yasukazu Hamada praised SDF personnel who participated in the inoculation program, saying they had completed the mission while always having high motivation and pride. Your hard work gave the public a sense of security, and you won people's trust and lived up to their expectations. The SDF-run program started in May 2021 to reduce the burden of local governments and to encourage as many people as possible to receive COVID- 19 vaccines.

It provided some 1.96 million shots in November 2021, which ended in November 2021.

The government soon decided to resume the program after a resurgence in new infection cases that showed the spread of the highly transmissible omicron variant. It was reopened in January 2022 at the Tokyo venue and the following month at the Tokyo site in Osaka, with a total of 520,000 additional shots given until Saturday.

The vaccine program has 104,000 SDF members, including medical officers and nurses from the Self-Defense Forces Central HospitalDefense Forces Central Hospital. They were joined by private sector nurses and other people who did jobs like guiding vaccine recipients at the venues and working related to reservations.

The program proved an unusually long mission, spanning 14 months after the resumption alone, according to Gen. Yoshihide Yoshida, chief of staff of the Ground SDF. It was an operation in which to develop an enduring sense of responsibility and motivation was a challenge. Participants from the public and private sectors completed the mission as one, so this achievement will be useful for the future, he said.