From The Japan News
August 1 2021
TOKYO – The government, which had aimed to have the entire elderly population fully vaccinated by the end of July, said that 86% of those 65 and over had received a first dose and 74% a second dose of COVID-19 vaccine as of Friday, according to data from the Cabinet Secretariat.
More alarming perhaps is that recent trends indicate an urgent need to accelerate vaccinations among younger people, among whom infections have been rapidly spreading.
Vaccinations started for about 36 million elderly on April 12. According to the Cabinet Secretariat, about 30.54 million nationwide have received a first dose, with that vaccination rate exceeding 80% in all prefectures. In Yamagata, Gifu, Shiga and Saga prefectures, the rate has topped 90%.
The number of elderly who have also received a second dose is about 26.44 million. Gifu Prefecture, at 85%, has the highest vaccination rate, while six other prefectures had rates in the 80% range.
“We have achieved our goal [of completing the vaccination of those who wanted it],” Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said at a press conference on Friday night.
On the other hand, the vaccination rate for those under 64 remains low — just 13% for the first dose and 4% for the second, according to data collected by The Yomiuri Shimbun.
“Compared to other countries, we can say that [vaccinating the elderly] is going well,” said Koji Wada, a professor of public health at International University of Health and Welfare. “The effect of that can be seen in the fact that the number of infections among the elderly has been suppressed.”
However, Wada also pointed out that for those under 64, “The number of seriously ill patients in the 40-to-early 60s age range is increasing, so it is necessary to speed up vaccinations. If this generation gets vaccinated, then the younger generations, which include their children, will be more willing to get the vaccine.”
Ahead of another state of emergency coming into effect Monday for a trio of Tokyo’s neighboring prefectures and Osaka, there has been little decline in the flow of people on city streets.
This is despite Suga, during his announcement of the new state of emergency Friday evening, again urging people to refrain from going out for nonessential purposes.
The state of emergency already in place for Tokyo and Okinawa Prefecture has been extended to Aug. 31, the same scheduled end date for the new state of emergency for Osaka, Chiba, Kanagawa and Saitama prefectures.
“We will consider measures with a determination that this time’s declaration will be the last,” Suga had said Friday.
On Saturday during the 3 p.m. hour, the number of people around Shinjuku and Shibuya stations in Tokyo barely changed compared to data a week ago, according to NTT Docomo, Inc.’s Mobile Spatial Statistics, which estimates population in specific areas using location information from mobile phones.
The same data showed that around Namba Station in Osaka, the number of people out rose slightly from a week ago.
Even at night in the Dotonbori area a short walk from Namba Station, a large number of people were strolling around.
A 53-year-old company employee from Toyonaka, Osaka Prefecture, said he came to the area to dine with friends.
“An emergency will be declared,” he said, “but I’m fed up because it’s just repeating the same thing over and over.”
A 20-year-old part-time worker from Naniwa Ward, Osaka, expressed a sense of urgency, however.
“Unless the flow of people is curbed as soon as possible, the number of infected people will continue to increase,” he said.