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Amid Olympic concerns, Japan begins COVID-19 vaccination drive

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Amid Olympic concerns, Japan begins COVID-19 vaccination drive

Amid Olympic concerns, Japan begins COVID-19 vaccination drive

Months after other major economies, Japan began giving the first coronavirus vaccines to front-line health workers Wednesday.Many are wondering if the campaign will reach enough people, and in time, to save a Summer Olympics already delayed a year by the worst pandemic in a century.

Despite recent rising infections, Japan has largely dodged the kind of cataclysm that has battered other wealthy countries’ economies, social networks and healthcare systems.But the fate of the Olympics, and the billions of dollars at stake should the Games fail, makes Japan’s vaccine campaign crucial.Japanese officials are also well aware that China, which has had success eradicating the virus, will host next year’s Winter Olympics, something that heightens the desire to make the Tokyo Games happen.

A big problem as the vaccines roll out — first to medical workers, then the elderly and then, possibly in late spring or early summer, to the rest of the population — are worries about
shortages of the imported vaccines Japan relies on, and a long-time reluctance among many Japanese to take vaccines because of fears of relatively-rare side effects that have been played up by the media in the past.

The late rollout will make it impossible to reach so-called “herd immunity” against the virus before the Olympics begin in July, experts say.

The vaccination drive has the support of the government, but there’s widespread wariness, even opposition, among citizens to having the Games at all.
About 80 percent of those polled in recent media surveys support cancellation or further postponement of the Olympics because of the virus worries.

Attended by a room full of media, Dr. Kazuhiro Araki, president of Tokyo Medical Center, rolled up his shirtsleeves and got a jab Wednesday, becoming one of the first Japanese to be vaccinated.

“It didn’t hurt at all, and I’m feeling very relieved,” he told reporters while he was being monitored for any allergic reaction.
“We now have better protection, and I hope we feel more at ease as we provide medical treatment.”

About 40,000 doctors and nurses considered vulnerable to the virus because they treat COVID-19 patients were in
the group getting their first dose starting Wednesday and scheduled to receive their second dose beginning March 10.

Japan lags behind many other countries.
The government only gave its first vaccine approval Sunday for the shots developed and supplied by Pfizer Inc.

Britain started inoculations on Dec. 8, while the United States began its campaign on Dec. 14, with about 15 million people vaccinated by mid-February.
Vaccines were rolled out in Germany, France,Italy and many European countries in late December.

Japan fell behind their pace because it asked Pfizer to conduct clinical trials with Japanese people, in addition to trials already conducted in six other nations.
Japanese officials said this was necessary to address worries in a country with low vaccine confidence.

“I think it is more important for the Japanese government to show the Japanese people that we have done everything possible to
prove the efficacy and safety of the vaccine to encourage the Japanese people to take the vaccine,” Japanese vaccine minister Taro Kono said.
“So at the end of the day we might have started slower but we think it will be more effective.

Japan’s mistrust of vaccines is decades old. Many people have a vague unease about vaccines, partly because
their side effects have often been played up by media here.

Half of the recipients of the first shots will keep daily records of their condition for seven weeks;
that data will be used in a health study meant to inform people worried about the side effects.

“We would like to make efforts so that the people can be vaccinated with a peace of mind,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato told reporters.

Japan, where development of its own vaccines is still in the early stages, must rely on foreign-developed vaccines initially.
Suga on Wednesday acknowledged the importance to strengthen vaccine development and production capability as “important crisis management” and pledged to provide more support.

Supplies of imported vaccines are a major worry because of supply shortages and restrictions in Europe, where many are manufactured.

Supplies of imported vaccines will determine the progress of the vaccination drive in Japan, Kono said.

The first batch of the Pfizer vaccine that arrived Friday is enough to cover the first group of medical workers.
The second batch is set for delivery next week.

To get the most vaccine from each vial, Japanese officials are scrambling to get specialised syringes that can hold six doses per vial instead of five by standard Japanese-made syringes.

After the front-line health care workers receiving their vaccines now, inoculations of 3.7 million more health workers
will begin in March, followed by about 36 million people aged 65 and older starting in April.
People with underlying health issues, as well as caregivers at nursing homes and other facilities, will be next, before the general population receives its turn.

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has said he’s determined to achieve a safe and secure Olympics as
“proof of human victory against the pandemic,” but the prospect is uncertain given the state of the infections.
Japan is currently under a partial state of emergency in part because Suga’s virus measures were too lax and slow.

Critics say many medical workers are now helping out in the vaccination drive at a time when Japanese hospitals are already strained by daily treatment of COVID-19 patients.
There’s worry hospitals will have no additional capacity to cope with the large number of overseas visitors the Olympics would involve.

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Former educators, a pastor, and more make up the 12 candidates for Denver school board

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Former educators, a pastor, and more make up the 12 candidates for Denver school board

When voters go to the polls on Nov. 2 they will decide who will help oversee Colorado’s largest school district.

Twelve candidates are running for four open seats on the Denver school board.

The election comes as a new superintendent has taken the helm of Denver Public Schools during the midst of the coronavirus pandemic and following the board’s recent censure of member Tay Anderson.

Here are the candidates:

At-large

Marla Benavides — home-schools her son and is running for an at-large seat, saying that she is concerned about literacy rates. On her website, Benavides blamed the district’s focus on equity for a failure to improve teaching and student performance. “I see literacy as the engine behind our 250 years of American greatness,” she said. “And I see my role as the last hope for education reform.”  You can read her full profile here.

Scott Esserman — is running for an at-large seat. He is a former teacher and was on the founding staff of Northfield High School in northeast Denver. Esserman said he would focus on improving student outcomes and disparities. He believes in “community schools,” which he said have culturally relevant curriculum and discipline is aimed at repairing harm. “That community schools model ensures that what we’re doing is listening,” he said. You can read his full profile here.

Vernon Jones Jr. — is a Christian pastor who is running for an at-large seat. He was the executive director of the Northeast Denver Innovation Zone, which is comprised of six semi-autonomous schools. He resigned from the position on Oct. 8. Jones, who wants to make sure there is Black representation on the board, said he wants the district to focus on equity, wellness, achievement and responsibility. “We have to do right by Black students across the city,” he said. “We have to do right by brown students across the city. And you need somebody who can champion that message.” You can read his full profile here.

Jane Shirley — is a former teacher, principal and district administrator at Aurora Public Schools. She is running for an at-large seat and lives in east Denver. Shirley said she is running because she thinks her experience could help the board, including in managing the superintendent.  She said she would focus on the well-being of students and teachers. “We’re killing our kids’ souls with this over-emphasis on competition and test scores and getting into good colleges,” Shirley said. You can read her full profile here.

Nicky Yollick — is a progressive political activist running for an at-large seat. He did not attend Denver Public Schools, nor is he a parent. He said he would focus on getting more money to schools by cutting the district administration and would give teachers and the community more influence over decisions. “Denver communities know I’m solidly in the progressive camp, and I don’t plan on budging one bit as a candidate or as a director on the board,” Yollick said. You can read his full profile here.

District 2

Xóchitl “Sochi” Gaytán — is a real estate agent who wants to represent District 2 so she can focus on classroom funding, reducing class sizes, and increasing access to arts, music and sports. Gaytán is co-chair of the Colorado Latino Forum — which aims to increase the political and social strength of the Latino Community —  and said she wants to be “a voice for one of the communities that has been pushed out of our city — a community specifically of Latino, Mexicano, Chicano [families].” You can read her full profile here.

Karolina Villagrana — is a former local teacher running to represent southwest Denver who wants to improve literacy instruction. She has experience at charter schools and the district’s Knapp Elementary School. But Villagrana said she isn’t focused on the type of schools children attend, adding “When I was having conversations with loved ones, it was more so that they wanted to find a school that was best for their kids, where their kids are learning and being successful.” You can read her full profile here.

District 3

Mike DeGuire — is running to represent central-east Denver. The retired Denver principal said he wants to give back and have the district provide more mental health and emotional support for students. DeGuire said he would also tackle what he called an “overemphasis on testing and a narrow emphasis on academics to the detriment of the other experiences that kids need — the arts, technical trades, extracurriculars, science, social studies, technology, civics.” You can read his full profile here.

Carrie Olson — serves as the Denver school board president and is running for reelection. She was elected in 2017 and has served as president since 2019. She has led the district’s search for a new superintendent and its response to the pandemic. Olson said her priorities would include strengthening traditional district-run schools and recruiting and retaining teachers of color — the latter of which has been a goal of the board without much progress. “I don’t think that there’s people actively working against the board’s vision,” Olson said. “I just think that we’re a large school system, and there is a lot of institutional racism. … So how can we better bridge that gap?” You can read her full profile here.

District 4

Gene Fashaw — is a math teacher at High Point Academy charter school in Aurora who is running to represent District 4 on the board. He said he would have the district better recruit and retain teachers of color and prioritize community voices in decision-making. Fashaw said he wants the district to support students, who he said are “often forgotten and not served appropriately.” You can read his full profile here.

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Colorado rescuers searched for hiker who didn’t answer phone calls

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Colorado rescuers searched for hiker who didn’t answer phone calls

LEADVILLE — A Colorado search and rescue team is urging people who are late in returning from the outdoors to answer their phones if they get repeated calls from an unknown number after spending hours looking for a hiker who never knew they were the subject of a search.

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Tractor-trailer overturned on Poplar Street Bridge ramp to 44/55

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Tractor-trailer overturned on Poplar Street Bridge ramp to 44/55

ST. LOUIS – A tractor-trailer overturned and was blocking traffic Tuesday morning on the Poplar Street Bridge.

The tractor-trailer overturned on the ramp from the Poplar Street Bridge onto the ramp to 44/55.

FOX 2’s Bommarito Automotive Group SkyFOX helicopter flew over the scene.

FOX 2 will continue to update this story with more information as it becomes available.

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