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US military bases in Japan, South Korea prepare to restart Johnson & Johnson vaccinations

Seaman Delano Freeman of the USS Blue Ridge receives a dose of the Moderna coronavirus vaccine at Yokosuka Naval Base, Japan, April 21, 2021.

AKIFUMI ISHIKAWA/STARS AND STRIPES

By ERICA EARL | STARS AND STRIPES Published: April 29, 2021

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TOKYO – As Japan’s coronavirus cases continued to surge on Thursday, some U.S. military bases there and in South Korea announced they would resume administering the one-dose vaccine made by Johnson & Johnson as soon as Friday.

Meanwhile, seven people associated with U.S. Forces Korea tested positive for the virus between April 7 and April 23, the command announced via Facebook on Thursday. No new cases had been reported by bases in Japan as of 6 p.m.

The Defense Health Agency approved Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine again Wednesday after a two-week pause prompted by a handful severe blood clots. That decision, which warned of that rare health risk, came after approval from the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Janssen shot will be available starting Friday for eligible beneficiaries at Yokota Air Base and Camp Zama near Tokyo, which on Thursday reached its highest daily case count since January. The city reported 1,027 new infections, according to public broadcaster NHK.

Misawa Air Base, in northeastern Japan, will resume distributing the Janssen vaccine starting May 11, according to an email Thursday from base spokesman Maj. Cody Chiles.

Spokespeople at Naval Hospital Yokosuka, south of Tokyo, told Stars and Stripes by phone Thursday that they were unsure of the Janssen vaccine’s status at Yokosuka Naval Base and Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni. Spokespeople from Kadena Air Base, Sasebo Naval Base and Naval Air Facility Atsugi did not respond to queries.

Yokota, in western Tokyo, is vaccinating all beneficiaries who are 18 or older. Vaccine lines, which require appointments, will be held at the Taiyo Community Center from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Friday and noon to 4 p.m. Saturday.

Camp Zama, just outside Tokyo, will host its first Janssen shot clinic at the Firelite Lounge from 8 a.m. to noon Friday for all service members, retirees, family members, contractors and DOD civilian employees, according to a Wednesday post on the base’s Facebook page. Appointments are required.

Camp Zama intends to host similar clinics for the Janssen vaccine every Friday through the month of May, according to the post.

U.S. Forces Korea will also resume use of the one-shot vaccine at its installations starting Friday. Service members who want to be inoculated should coordinate the shot through their chain of command, according to a news release Wednesday.

Of the seven new coronavirus patients announced by USFK on Thursday, four tested positive on a screening required when entering quarantine and three came up positive on a test required to exit quarantine, according a post on the command’s official Facebook page.

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Twitter: @ThisEarlGirl