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Japan to vaccinate 12- to 15-year-olds during summer break

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Japan will vaccinate schoolchildren ages 12 to 15 against COVID-19 during the summer break, Taro Kono, the Cabinet minister who is in charge of the vaccination rollout, said Sunday.

The government hopes to make sure that vaccinations for the age group are carried out during the summer break so that children can return to school without worrying about infections, Kono said on a television program.

He added that the education ministry will release related guidelines in the near future.

Last month, the health ministry lowered the minimum age for U.S. drugmaker Pfizer Inc.’s COVID-19 vaccine to 12 from 16.

“It is now known that age causes little difference in the efficacy or safety of the vaccine,” Kono said.

“Coronavirus vaccinations are not compulsory, so I don’t think that mass vaccinations during school hours will be carried out,” he added.

Inoculations of elderly people aged 65 or over will be completed in most municipalities by the end of July, Kono said, adding that about 30% of the country’s total population will be vaccinated by that time, including those receiving shots at workplaces.

The daily number of shots administered already appears to have reached the target of 1 million set by Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, Kono also noted.

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