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Japan begins vaccination campaign

by Onize Ohikere
Posted 2/17/21, 04:03 am

Front-line health workers in Japan’s capital of Tokyo received the country's first coronavirus vaccines Wednesday. Japan formally approved the BioNTech-Pfizer jab on Sunday, trailing months behind other major economies. More health workers will receive their first shots in March, while the elderly will start getting their vaccines in April.

What caused the delay? Japan asked Pfizer to conduct clinical trials with Japanese people to prove the safety of the shots to the public, said vaccine minister Taro Kono. The country has also started the approval process for Oxford-AstraZeneca’s shots. The delay has further complicated Japan’s preparedness for the Summer Olympics in July. Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga declared a state of emergency in Tokyo and other hard-hit areas early in January. Tatsuya Maruyama, the governor of Japan’s Shimane prefecture, said the region could pull out of the Olympic torch relay if the present conditions continue.

Dig deeper: Read Mindy Belz’s report in WORLD Magazine on vaccine access in poorer nations.

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Onize Ohikere

Onize is WORLD's Africa reporter. She is a World Journalism Institute graduate and earned a journalism degree from Minnesota State University-Moorhead. Onize resides in Abuja, Nigeria. Follow her on Twitter @onize_ohiks.

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