Japan started vaccinating citizens against the coronavirus on Wednesday. The country launched the vaccination program a few months before the Olympic Games begin, which kick off in Tokyo in July.
Responsible minister Taro Kono said he has “no idea” how many Japanese people could be vaccinated before then.
So far, Japan has only approved the vaccine from Pfizer / BioNTech, which is also used in the Netherlands. The vaccination started in a hospital in the capital Tokyo. “I’m not very fond of getting injections,” admitted hospital manager Kazuhiro Araki, who was the first to get the job. “But it wasn’t painful. So that’s okay.”
The Japanese authorities will first vaccinate healthcare providers. After that, people over 65 will also have to get their turn from April. Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga acknowledged that Japan started vaccinating later than some other countries. “But today we start,” he continued.
The number of diagnosed corona infections and deaths is much lower in Japan than in many Western countries. Japanese authorities have reported about 418,000 corona cases. About 7,000 patients have died.
The country has not introduced a strict lockdown, although in some places people are asked to stay at home as much as possible. Catering businesses are requested to adhere to adjusted opening hours.