Japan finally begins COVID vaccinations amid worries over Olympics

14, with about 15 million people vaccinated by mid-February. 8, while the United States began its campaign on Dec. Despite recent rising infections, Japan has largely dodged the kind of cataclysm that has battered other wealthy countries’ economies, social networks and healthcare systems. Suga has said he’s determined to achieve a safe and secure Olympics as “proof of human victory against the pandemic,” but the prospect is uncertain given the state of the infections. Tokyo Medical Center Director Kazuhiro Araki speaks to the media after receiving a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine as Japan launched its inoculation campaign, in Tokyo, on February 17, 2021. “I think it is more important for the Japanese government to show the Japanese people that we have done everything possible to prove the efficacy and safety of the vaccine to encourage the Japanese people to take the vaccine,” Japanese vaccine minister Taro Kono said. Supplies of imported vaccines are a major worry because of supply shortages and restrictions in Europe, where many are manufactured. Many people have a vague unease about vaccines, partly because their side effects have often been played up by media here. After the front-line health care workers receiving their vaccines now, inoculations of 3.7 million more health workers will begin in March, followed by about 36 million people aged 65 and older starting in April. Many are wondering if the campaign will reach enough people, and in time, to save a Summer Olympics already delayed a year by the worst pandemic in a century. “We would like to make efforts so that the people can be vaccinated with a peace of mind,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato told reporters. There’s worry hospitals will have no additional capacity to cope with the large number of overseas visitors the Olympics would involve. Half of the recipients of the first shots will keep daily records of their condition for seven weeks; that data will be used in a health study meant to inform people worried about the side effects. “We now have better protection, and I hope we feel more at ease as we provide medical treatment.” About 40,000 doctors and nurses considered vulnerable to the virus because they treat COVID-19 patients were in the group getting their first dose starting Wednesday and scheduled to receive their second dose beginning March 10. Critics say many medical workers are now helping out in the vaccination drive at a time when Japanese hospitals are already strained by daily treatment of COVID-19 patients. Kazuhiro Araki, president of Tokyo Medical Center, rolled up his shirtsleeves and got a shot Wednesday, becoming one of the first Japanese to be vaccinated. About 80% of those polled in recent media surveys support cancellation or further postponement of the Olympics because of the virus worries. Britain started inoculations on Dec. But the fate of the Olympics, and the billions of dollars at stake should the Games fail, makes Japan’s vaccine campaign crucial. Coronavirus Crisis

Coronavirus Crisis


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Eager for a stimulus check? Japanese officials said this was necessary to address worries in a country with low vaccine confidence. Japan finally begins COVID vaccinations amid worries over staging Olympics

February 17, 2021 / 4:14 AM
/ AP

Questions about plans for Tokyo Olympics

Questions about plans for Tokyo Olympics


Months after other major economies, Japan began giving the first coronavirus vaccines to front-line health workers Wednesday. The government only gave its first vaccine approval Sunday for the shots developed and supplied by Pfizer Inc. The first batch of the Pfizer vaccine that arrived Friday is enough to cover the first group of medical workers. Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga on Wednesday acknowledged the importance to strengthen vaccine development and production capability as “important crisis management” and pledged to provide more support. To get the most vaccine from each vial, Japanese officials are scrambling to get specialized syringes that can hold six doses per vial instead of five by standard Japanese-made syringes. Japan’s mistrust of vaccines is decades old. Japan, where development of its own vaccines is still in the early stages, must rely on foreign-developed vaccines initially. Japanese officials are also well aware that China, which has had success eradicating the virus, will host next year’s Winter Olympics, something that heightens the desire to make the Tokyo Games happen. People with underlying health issues, as well as caregivers at nursing homes and other facilities, will be next, before the general population receives its turn. The late rollout will make it impossible to reach so-called “herd immunity” against the virus before the Olympics begin in July, experts say. POOL / REUTERS

“It didn’t hurt at all, and I’m feeling very relieved,” he told reporters while he was being monitored for any allergic reaction. Vaccines were rolled out in Germany, France, Italy and many European countries in late December. “So at the end of the day we might have started slower but we think it will be more effective. The second batch is set for delivery next week. Early tax filing might help

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Attended by a room full of media, Dr. The vaccination drive has the support of the government, but there’s widespread wariness, even opposition, among citizens to having the games at all. First published on February 17, 2021 / 4:14 AM A big problem as the vaccines roll out – first to medical workers, then the elderly and then, possibly in late spring or early summer, to the rest of the population – are worries about shortages of the imported vaccines Japan relies on, and a long-time reluctance among many Japanese to take vaccines because of fears of relatively-rare side effects that have been played up by the media in the past. Supplies of imported vaccines will determine the progress of the vaccination drive in Japan, Kono said. Japan fell behind their pace because it asked Pfizer to conduct clinical trials with Japanese people, in addition to trials already conducted in six other nations. Japan lags behind many other countries. Japan is currently under a partial state of emergency in part because Suga’s virus measures were too lax and slow.