Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said Wednesday that the first coronavirus vaccinations in Japan will start being given in the middle of next week, with the first shots expected to be for medical workers.

The government “will launch (the vaccinations) in the middle of next week after confirming the (vaccine’s) effectiveness and safety,” Suga said at a liaison meeting between the government and the ruling camp.

The government will adjust the schedule to start the vaccination program around Feb. 17.

On Feb. 2, Suga told a news conference that the government aimed to start the vaccinations in the middle of this month, beginning with medical workers.

“We absolutely need cooperation from municipalities, as well as the doctors and nurses in charge of on-site management,” Suga said at Wednesday’s meeting. “We’ll make all-out efforts and thorough preparations.”

Later, at the Prime Minister’s Office, Suga was to ask for cooperation from Japan Medical Association President Toshio Nakagawa over the vaccinations.

The health ministry will hold a meeting of an expert panel on Friday to discuss whether to approve major U.S. drugmaker Pfizer Inc.’s coronavirus vaccine. It is expected formally approve that vaccine on Monday if the panel gives the green light.

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