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Japan's Vaccination Drive Is Underway

| Stay Home , Tokyo
Japan's Vaccination Drive Is Underway

On February 17, Japan finally kicked off its coronavirus vaccination drive. Tokyo Medical Center director Kazuhiro Araki was the first person in the country to receive the vaccine. The event was carried out smoothly. "I was worried about getting this injection for the first time," said Dr. Araki. "I’m relieved because it did not hurt at all."

Healthcare workers in Chiba Prefecture, east of Tokyo, also got inoculated. Around 200 medical personnel at this hospital will be given the shots. As well as in Yokohama, where some 40,000 frontline medical workers are the first in line to get the vaccine in Japan. The health ministry will survey half of them and release data on factors like side effects every week.

Some people seem to have mixed feelings. One citizen is quoted as saying: "I feel a little relieved knowing that I can eventually get vaccinated." Another disagrees, saying, "I feel strongly against getting the vaccine. We don’t know much about side effects." Professor Ken Ishii, an expert on vaccines at Tokyo University's Institute of Medical Science, emphasizes the importance of watching out for side reactions. "If you're healthy and if the reaction symptoms disappear by the next day, that means the vaccine is working in most cases," said Ishii. Ishii advises people to consult a medical facility if side effects linger or if the symptoms are severe.

Yokosuka, a local municipality south of Tokyo, is preparing for public immunization in a unique way: eyeing administering vaccines on an individual basis at about 200 medical institutions. This allows people to receive the injections as close to their homes as possible. The city will also set up two sites for group vaccinations.

One of the venues is a local department store with a 148-year history. The fifth and sixth floors of the building will be turned into a vaccination center after the facility downsizes and reopens in March. Officials are preparing an extra bonus for people who get the vaccine. The city is negotiating with the store to offer services for people who show the vaccination certificate to the clerk. The department store sees the opportunity in a positive light. If the local community can become revitalized through activities like cooperating with the vaccination, it will be advantageous for our business as well.

Yokosuka City will prepare facilities by the end of March so inoculations can start as soon as the vaccines arrive.

After healthcare workers, the elderly are next in line to get the vaccines starting in April. Vaccination will then be expanded to those with underlying conditions. The Japanese government hopes to immunize all residents against COVID-19 by next February. But finding appropriate vaccination sites and securing sufficient healthcare personnel remain an obstacle, especially in regional areas with little manpower. Cooperation between the central and local governments as well as medical workers is vital in the battle against the pandemic.