TOKYO: COVID-19 vaccinations at workplaces kicked off in full scale in Japan on Monday, hopefully accelerating the country’s vaccine rollout, which has been lagging behind the United States and European nations.
As of 5 p.m. Friday (8 a.m. GMT), companies, universities and others had filed applications to give vaccinations against the novel coronavirus through the workplace vaccination program to a total of 13.73 million people at 3,479 venues, according to the government.
The workplace vaccination program uses the vaccine developed by U.S. biotechnology company Moderna Inc. Participating companies and universities have to secure the necessary venues and medical workers for the inoculations by themselves.
Among large companies, All Nippon Airways, a unit of ANA Holdings Inc., and Japan Airlines started vaccinating their employees earlier this month, taking the lead in Japan’s workplace vaccination efforts.
Starting Monday, SoftBank Group Corp. plans to give inoculations to some 250,000 people, the Japan Post Holdings Co. group to around 240,000, the Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp. group to about 160,000 and Toyota Motor Corp. to some 80,000. Mori Building Co. and Seven & i Holdings Co. will vaccinate some 100,000 people, respectively.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato visited major trader Itochu Corp.’s headquarters office in Tokyo and watched some employees of the company and staff of an in-house nursery school receive shots.
“If I get infected, I’ll cause trouble to a lot of people, so I’m grateful that I could get vaccinated,” a nursery staff member said.
Itochu Chairman Masahiro Okafuji told reporters, “We hope to promote corporate efforts to vaccinate as many people as possible and see the vaccination rate of the entire country go up as a result.”
As of around noon Thursday, 174 universities had filed applications for workplace vaccinations, with 17 of them, including Tohoku University and Tokushima University, starting inoculations to students and faculty members Monday.
Vaccinations to central government workers began Monday morning, while those to immigration officers at airports will start later in the day.
People can receive shots through the workplace vaccination program even if they do not have vaccination tickets issued by municipalities.
Kansai University in Suita, Osaka Prefecture, western Japan, started giving vaccinations to students and faculty members at four campuses in the prefecture. Vaccine recipients at the university are expected to total some 35,000.
A 22-year-old Kansai University student from South Korea said, “I haven’t gone back to my country for more than a year” because of a two-week quarantine needed upon arrival in South Korea and again upon return to Japan.
“I want to return home soon to see my family,” the student, who got vaccinated, said with a relieved expression on her face.
At the Universal Studios Japan movie theme park in the city of Osaka, around 10,000 employees, part-time workers and other staff members are planned to get vaccinated by the end of August.
Mizuna Ishikawa, 25, who works as a guide for visitors at the theme park, said after receiving a shot: “I can feel more secure while I’m working. I hope our guests can enjoy their stay also with a sense of security.”