Japan has received its third batch of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine, with the shipment containing up to 526,500 doses developed by US pharmaceutical giant and its German partner BioNTech.
So far, Japan has received half of the 2.66 million doses it expects to receive in March as its vaccination campaign has expanded to include more healthcare workers, reports Xinhua news agency.
Tthe government has planned to begin inoculating 4.7 million healthcare workers from this week onwards, followed by 36 million people aged 65 and older who are next in line to be vaccinated from April 12.
Those with pre-existing health conditions and workers at elderly care facilities will be vaccinated before the inoculation drive for the general population begins, the government has said.
According to Minister in charge of the vaccine rollout Taro Kono, the government is planning to have the requisite number of doses delivered to inoculate all health care workers and elderly citizens by the end of June.
Japan will be allowed to transport and store the vaccine at regular freezer temperatures for up to two weeks, according to Pfizer, so as to distribute the jab more widely among medical facilities.
Japan has procured enough doses of vaccines for its population of 126 million people, with the government inking deals with Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Moderna.
On Monday, Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato said that a clinical study has also started in Japan for US company Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose vaccine.
While the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines both require recipients to receive two doses, Johnson & Johnson’s jab is the first approved in the US that requires a single dose.
On February 17, Japan launched the first phase of its vaccination program for 40,000 medical workers at 100 hospitals nationwide.