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Coronavirus

Suga says Japan's vaccinations to begin in the middle of next week

Country set to start inoculation with Pfizer jabs, starting with health workers

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga addresses a meeting of the government and ruling parties at the Prime Minister's Office on Feb. 10. (Photo by Uichiro Kasai)

TOKYO -- Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said Wednesday that the government will begin COVID-19 vaccinations for health workers "in the middle of next week." The government is planning to start the rollout of Pfizer vaccines as early as next Wednesday.

Speaking at a meeting with the government and the ruling parties, Suga said, "We'll start in the middle of next week, once we've confirmed [the vaccine's] efficacy and safety."

Suga will meet with Toshio Nakagawa, head of the Japan Medical Association, on Wednesday evening to seek the group's help with the inoculation program. Suga stressed that "the cooperation of local governments, doctors and nurses is absolutely necessary." The government plans to begin inoculations for the elderly in April.

Regarding the status of coronavirus infections in the country, Suga emphasized that "the downward trend in the number of newly infected cases has become more certain in the past week." But he also acknowledged that there are still difficulties in securing enough hospital beds for COVID-19 patients.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato, meanwhile, said the government plans to revise its policy based on revised coronavirus special measures law on Friday. The change authorizes prefectural governors to take steps equivalent to those taken during a declared state of emergency.

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