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Japan to OK in-school vaccinations for children

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The central government plans to allow in-school COVID-19 vaccinations for children aged 12 and over in areas struggling to secure enough people to administer vaccines, sources said Monday.

The government plans to ask municipalities to gain consent from parents by giving them full explanations about possible side-effects before starting in-school vaccinations. It also plans to ask municipalities to respect the wishes of parents and children who do not want to get vaccinated.

The government aims to ensure that in-school vaccinations are not compulsory as it is basically seeking to inoculate children individually at hospitals.

The news comes a day after Taro Kono, the Cabinet minister in charge of the vaccine rollout, said Japan would aim to vaccinate schoolchildren ages 12 to 15 during the summer break.

On Monday, Kono backed off those remarks, apologizing for the “misunderstanding” and saying that the government is not requesting those vaccinations to be completed during the summer vacation, public broadcaster NHK reported.

The education ministry is slated to notify municipalities of its in-school vaccination guidelines this week, the sources said.

The ministry is calling on municipalities to prioritize vaccinations for older people and those with underlying conditions. But some municipalities seeing progress in vaccinating older people plan to expand the scope of inoculations to include children.

The health ministry has lowered the minimum age for Pfizer Inc.’s vaccine to 12 years old from 16.

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