Petty Officer 2nd Class Jose Sabangan prepares a COVID-19 vaccine during a shot clinic at Naval Air Facility Atsugi, Japan, May 7, 2021.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Jose Sabangan prepares a COVID-19 vaccine during a shot clinic at Naval Air Facility Atsugi, Japan, May 7, 2021. (Akifumi Ishikawa/Stars and Stripes)

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TOKYO – A Marine Corps air station in western Japan announced Wednesday it would soon give COVID-19 vaccinations to adolescents as young as 12 years old.

Meanwhile, three people at U.S. military bases in the country have contracted the coronavirus respiratory disease over the past week, according to updates as of 6 p.m. Wednesday.

Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni has opened its coronavirus vaccination appointments for a May 20 shot clinic to eligible adolescents ages 12 to 17, according to the base Facebook page Wednesday. Those interested in the two-shot Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine may sign up here.

MCAS Iwakuni appeared to be the only installation in Japan making appointments for adolescents to receive the Pfizer vaccine. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the vaccine Monday for emergency use for recipients ages 12 to 15. It had been approved in December for recipients 16 and older.

Now that the Pfizer vaccine is approved for emergency use, the Defense Health Agency is working to make it available to that age group, Maj. Joshua Diddams, spokesman for MCAS Iwakuni, told Stars and Stripes by phone Wednesday. The air station clinic is a branch of Yokosuka Naval Hospital, south of Tokyo, which asked the clinic how many doses it would need, he said.

To find out, the Iwakuni clinic on May 4 asked interested parents to register their children for appointments in anticipation of the vaccine becoming available, according to the base Facebook page.

On Wednesday, the clinic added slots to its May 20 vaccination clinic at the IronWorks gym in further anticipation. Interested parents should register by noon Friday, according to the Facebook post.

Two people on Okinawa have tested positive for COVID-19 since May 5, according to a U.S. Army Japan news release Wednesday. The Army last reported four new cases on April 28. Six people with the Army contracted the virus in April.

Naval Air Facility Atsugi had one person contract the virus through close contact with a previously infected individual, according to an official Facebook post Wednesday. The air base 26 miles southwest of Tokyo is monitoring three COVID-19 patients.

Elsewhere in Japan, the capital city reported 969 new infections Wednesday, according to public broadcaster NHK. Another five people became severely ill with COVID-19, for a total of 86, NHK reported.

In South Korea, the one-day count climbed Tuesday to 635 new COVID-19 patients, with 220 in Seoul and 184 in Gyeonggi province, home of Camp Humphreys and Osan Air Base. Twitter: @JosephDitzler

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Joseph Ditzler is a Marine Corps veteran and the Pacific editor for Stars and Stripes. He’s a native of Pennsylvania and has written for newspapers and websites in Alaska, California, Florida, New Mexico, Oregon and Pennsylvania. He studied journalism at Penn State and international relations at the University of Oklahoma.

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