Japan Kicks off COVID-19 Inoculations with Pfizer-BioNTech Vaccine

On February 17, Japan launched the COVID-19 inoculation plan, prioritizing 40,000 frontline medical workers in 100 hospitals to be vaccinated with Pfizer/BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine that received the first emergency approval in the country.

Head of the Tokyo Medical Center Kazuhiro Araki was the first to take the shot. He said that “the vaccine plays an important role in anti-coronavirus measures. So I thought as a director I should take the lead and get the shot.”


Tracking Side Effects

Japan also announced that 20,000 medical workers in the first vaccination group will be asked to document their health condition for 3 weeks after the first shot and four weeks after the second shot. The healthcare ministry will then track the side effects and incidence rate of the vaccine and release reports periodically. The second shot will occur in 3 weeks.

As for the rest of the population, Japan scheduled to vaccinate 3.7 million medical personnel; next 36 million elders over 65 years old and those with pre-existing conditions. The general public would be the last to vaccinate.


Efforts to Host the Olympics

Besides mass vaccination, Japan also conducts random PCR testing and builds automated testing robots prototypes for the upcoming Olympics in summer.

For now, in addition to the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, Japan also brought in 50 million vaccines from Moderna (mRNA-1273) and 120 million from AstraZeneca (AZD1222), making it possible to vaccinate 157 million Japanese citizens.

As of February 16th, Japan has 417,765 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 7,015 deaths.

Related Article: With Olympics Just Months Away, Japan Plans for COVID-19 Vaccinations and Testing


  1. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20210217_12/ https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-japan-vaccine/japan-kicks-off-covid-19-vaccination-drive-idUSKBN2AH00P
  2.  https://www.nytimes.com/2021/02/14/world/Japan-Pfizer-Covid-vaccine.html

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