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Japan, still aiming to hold the Olympics this summer, starts COVID-19 vaccine drive

Japan began its COVID-19 vaccine drive on Wednesday, with Vice Health Minister Hiroshi Yamamoto calling it "the first major step" toward ending the coronavirus pandemic.

The first doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine were administered at the Tokyo Medical Center. The initial shipments of the vaccine will cover about 40,000 health workers, Reuters reports. More than 3.7 million additional medical professionals will then receive the vaccine, followed by 36 million people 65 and older.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has said that in order for the Olympics to take place in Tokyo this summer, the vaccine deployment must run smoothly. To inoculate everyone in Japan, the government is aiming to get 126 million vaccines by the middle of the year. There have been 415,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Japan and 7,013 deaths.