With a potential bird flu pandemic percolating in the region, Japan has decided to inoculate 6,000 health care workers with a pre-pandemic vaccine developed from a strain of the virus gathered in Vietnam and Indonesia. Health officials say that millions more Japanese may be given a vaccination later.
First up are doctors, quarantine inspectors and other health and immigration officials in the world's first vaccination campaign aimed at protecting front-line workers against bird flu.
"If we obtain good results over its effectiveness and safety, we want to consider vaccinating (an additional) 10 million people who are in medical occupations" or other key jobs such as at utilities," Japanese Health Minister Yoichi Masuzoe told reporters. A spokesperson for the WHO called it a "big roll of the dice."
- read the report from the BBC