If you live in the United States, you often hear about how many people are getting vaccinated against COVID-19 with either the Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccines. 4 million Americans received a first (or second) dose of vaccine on Saturday alone. It’s no wonder that most Americans are looking at those numbers and starting to dream of traveling again. I’m not talking about the socially distanced travel we’ve all been learning about for the last year. I’m talking about real travel. Be it going on a cruise or hopping on a plane to visit another country.
For us, that would be our postponed trip to Japan. We had everything set for 2020 but, of course, that didn’t happen. When we were a year out from our dates at the end of 2021, I booked flights for November. I figured there was a good shot everything would be getting back to normal by then, right?
I was looking forward to the trip until I read this article from NHK, the state-controlled public broadcasting network of Japan, titled “Japan starting deliveries of vaccine for elderly.”
Japan is just starting to vaccinate their elderly? We’ve already done that and are looking to offer vaccines to everyone by May 1st, if not earlier.
Why are things taking so long to get started in Japan? It appears that they’re taking time to approve the vaccines already in use around the world until trials are complete in Japan. Here’s a timeline from TimeOut about the planned launch of widescale vaccination in Japan.
- May: Japan is set to receive 100 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine between May and June. Vaccine minister Taro Kono has a target of getting roughly 10 million vaccine doses for each week of May. In addition, the Moderna vaccine is expected to be approved around this time. According to Reuters, the head of Japan vaccine business for local pharmaceutical company Takeda Pharmaceutical Co said that securing approval for the vaccine in May is the ‘best case scenario’. This is because clinical trials are likely to take months.
- June: Prime Minister Suga is aiming to secure enough vaccines to treat all residents by the end of June.
- July: Treatment for the general public begins. All residents age 16 and older, including foreign residents, are eligible for the free vaccine. The government does not recommend children to be vaccinated at this time due to potential risks and allergic reactions.
So despite the delay in approving the vaccine, the government seeks to start immunizing the general public in July. If Japan has enough supply, I have no doubt that they’ll be able to vaccinate the population quickly.
I agree with other bloggers that countries which have been careful about letting COVID-19 into their countries will only open their borders when most of the population is vaccinated, regardless of the vaccination of a visitor to the country. Personally, I’m hoping Japan will have most of the populations vaccinated so we’ll be able to visit this winter, but…
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary