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The Japanese government plans to administer a COVID-19 vaccine to medical workers, as well as elderly people and those with underlying health problems, on a priority basis, once such a vaccine is put into practical use, Jiji Press learned Wednesday.

This vaccination priority is aimed at ensuring adequate medical services, informed sources said.

The government is expected to draw up an outline of its COVID-19 vaccination program at a related panel meeting on Friday.

The panel on the novel coronavirus, responsible for the respiratory illness, initially planned to include pregnant women in the vaccination priority group.

But this plan has been dropped, due to a clinical test on a potential COVID-19 vaccine suggesting higher risks of side-effects such as headache and fever than those from other vaccines, the sources said.

The government has concluded basic agreements with major U.S. and British drugmakers on the supply of their COVID-19 vaccines under development.

COVID-19 vaccination may start in Japan as soon as early next year, according to the sources.

The government is slated to formally adopt its vaccination program in early September or later. The vaccination is expected to be fully state-funded

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