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VERIFY: Here's a look at Japan's vaccination plan

People online claim the Olympics are in jeopardy because the country has no plan to vaccinate its population. That's false.

WASHINGTON — The opening ceremonies for Olympic Games begin in Japan Friday. At the same time, the Delta variant of the coronavirus continues to spike across the world. It has led to many questions online about the readiness of Japan to hold the Olympic Games.

We got an email from a viewer who asked us to verify something they heard from a friend, that Japan doesn’t have a vaccination plan.

THE QUESTION

Does Japan not have a vaccination plan?

THE SOURCES

Dr. Robert Gallo, the founder of the Institute of Human Virology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and a co-founder of the Global Virus Network. Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare.

THE ANSWER

This claim is false, the country does have a vaccination plan.

WHAT WE FOUND

Fortunately, this claim is false. According to the Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare, the country's vaccine plan is similar to ours.

The vaccine is free to everyone. The government distributes it based on population to municipalities. It is then given out based on priorities like age and other health risks.

“They have approval now in Japan to use in Pfizer, Moderna, and AstraZeneca,” Dr. Gallo said. “They will shortly approve Johnson and Johnson.”

As Dr. Gallo explained, Japan didn’t start vaccinating until April 2020. Until the early spring, the country believed the virus was relatively under control.

“They were thinking they don't have a problem, yet,’” Dr. Gallo said. “[The country] continued to develop its own vaccine and put it forward. That is what caused the delay.

So, the claim Japan has no vaccination plan is false. It was just delayed compared to the United States.

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