Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga will receive his first shot of Pfizer Inc.’s COVID-19 vaccine on Tuesday as part of preparations to visit the United States next month, a government official said.
Suga is slated to get the second shot three weeks later before departing on the trip, in which he will be the first world leader to meet with U.S. President Joe Biden in person.
Japan has prioritized vaccinating health care workers before expanding the rollout to the rest of its population. Government officials had previously said Suga, 72, would receive his shots along with other people age 65 years or older, who become eligible from mid-April.
The official said Suga’s vaccination will likely be open to the press, following the example of leaders of other countries who have received their shots in front of cameras to ease concerns over the safety of COVID-19 vaccines that have been quickly developed using new technology. Biden, 78, did so in December before taking office.
To lower the risk of spreading the coronavirus during the April trip, Suga is keeping his entourage small and having everyone receive both shots before departure, according to the official.
In their meeting, Suga and Biden are expected to discuss efforts to realize a free and open Indo-Pacific amid China’s growing economic and military influence in the region, as well as global issues including the coronavirus pandemic and climate change.
The leaders attended a virtual meeting last week with their Australian and Indian counterparts, in which they agreed to cooperate to expand COVID-19 vaccine production for developing countries.
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