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Vaccination day is here at last. Japan began giving initial shots of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine to 40,000 essential workers on Wednesday, with Taro Kono — the nation’s vaccine czar — saying a day earlier that the front-line staff will receive their second doses from March 10, reports Ryusei Takahashi.

Japan plans to start inoculating elderly people only after the vaccinations for front-line health workers have been administered, possibly delaying the initially anticipated start date for seniors in April, a top government official has warned, depending on when subsequent vaccine shipments arrive.

Meanwhile, as the nation scrambles to secure special syringes to maximize the number of vaccine shots that can be used from each vial, manufacturers are struggling to ramp up production quickly, raising fears that millions of doses could go waste, Reuters reports.

Japan kick-starts COVID-19 vaccination drive, 40,000 healthcare workers to be inoculated first | CNA
Japan kick-starts COVID-19 vaccination drive, 40,000 healthcare workers to be inoculated first | CNA

While new infections continue to fall across Japan, Tokyo Metropolitan Government officials admitted Monday that 838 COVID-19 cases in the capital, mainly in the year-end and New Year period, had gone unreported.

Workers at public health offices apparently failed to press a button that confirms and records metropolitan case data in the health ministry’s database of infections. At the time, new cases in Tokyo were surging, and the errors have been blamed on “an increased workload” at health offices.

Tuesday’s (and last Tuesday’s) new COVID-19 cases by prefecture (20 or over): Tokyo 350 (412), Chiba 145 (98), Kanagawa 133 (142), Saitama 114 (173), Osaka 98 (155), Aichi 63 (84), Fukuoka 48 (71), Hyogo 46 (68), Hokkaido 44 (41), Gifu 26 (19), Ibaraki 21 (40), Ishikawa 21 (16). Source: Japan COVID-19 Coronavirus Tracker

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