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Asia Minute: Vaccine Roll-Outs Picking Up in Asia Pacific

AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino, FILE
FILE - In this file photo dated Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021, a health worker prepares a dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine to be administered in Fiumicino, near Rome's international airport.

Vaccinations for COVID-19 continue to go into arms around the state — although health officials would still like to have a bigger supply. Vaccine distribution is underway across most of Europe, and several other parts of the world. For parts of the Asia Pacific, that process still has not begun.

Japan has now received its first shipment of COVID-19 vaccines. Kyodo News reports about 400,000 doses arrived Friday at Narita Airport — flown in from Brussels.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has said vaccinations will get underway later this week — starting with about 10,000 health workers.

The Philippines had planned to start vaccinations this week, but a shipment of nearly 120,000 doses of Pfizer vaccine has been delayed.

Government officials say they still hope to begin injections later this month.

That’s also the plan for New Zealand, where Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told reporters Friday that the first doses will arrive this week, and vaccinations could start as early as Saturday.

Australia’s Health Minister said Friday that his country will start administering its own version of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine by the end of March, and is on track to start the Pfizer vaccine later this month.

India started its mass vaccination program about a month ago. And China, Indonesia, and Pakistan also have programs already underway.

According to government announcements, Malaysia and Thailand are among the countries that may start vaccines later this month — while several others are still moving ahead with late-stage trials.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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