Japan's foreign residents ponder travelling for vaccines amid slow inoculation push

Reuters -- Apr 21
Japan's glacial COVID-19 inoculation push is prompting some foreign residents to consider flying to other countries to get vaccinated, as the pandemic surges again with no shots in sight for everyday people.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga negotiated with the CEO of Pfizer Inc on Saturday to secure more vaccine doses, now expected to be enough for all residents by September. That's well after the scheduled start of the Tokyo Olympics and far behind the pace of most major economies.

Japan only started vaccinating its sizable elderly population this month and health experts say it may take till the winter or longer for most of the general populace to get access to the shots.

It's unclear how many foreigners are flying out of Japan to get shots, but it is a hot topic on social media and in business circles.

Japan has vaccinated about 1% of its population, compared with 2.9% in South Korea, which started later, and at least 40% in both the United States and Britain, according to a Reuters tracker.

Japan bars tourists from entering the country, and it's no easy matter for residents to get vaccinated overseas and come back. A two-dose regimen would take at least a couple weeks, often longer, and Japan operates a two-week quarantine for people coming into the country, even if they have been vaccinated.

- Reuters