Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga received his second dose of U.S. drugmaker Pfizer Inc.’s COVID-19 vaccine in Tokyo on Tuesday, with the shot coming ahead of his first face-to-face meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden in Washington on April 16.

Yoshihide Suga | KYODO
Yoshihide Suga | KYODO

Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine requires two shots, three weeks apart, to work effectively.

Suga received his first inoculation on March 16. The prime minister got that shot in front of cameras, taking a cue from other world leaders who have used it as an opportunity to build confidence in COVID-19 vaccines, including Biden, 78, who did so in December before taking office.

Public skepticism toward vaccinations could hamper Japan’s vaccine rollout, with only 63.1% of respondents in a Kyodo News poll conducted in February saying they want to be inoculated and 27.4% saying they do not.

Suga has pledged to secure enough COVID-19 vaccines for Japan’s population of 126 million within the first half of this year, though the effort has been held up by production delays and the European Union’s export controls, as well as difficulty in procuring low dead space syringes that can extract more doses per vial.

The initial focus of Japan’s vaccine rollout has been health care workers, with the rest of the population waiting for their turn.

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