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Individual vaccination plans gradually spreading in Japan

  • February 9, 2021
  • , Jiji Press , 8:27 p.m.
  • English Press

Tokyo, Feb. 9 (Jiji Press)–The so-called Nerima Ward model, a plan centered around individual coronavirus vaccinations by family doctors proposed by the Tokyo ward, is gradually spreading throughout Japan.

Nerima compiled the plan, which promotes a quick and safe way for vaccines to be administered to people at locations near them, in January. It will implement the plan starting with vaccinations for elderly citizens expected to begin as early as April.

Such a method still faces challenges, including whether vaccines are able to be transported under strict thermal management.

The ward and the local medical association once considered conducting group vaccinations, but they concluded that it would be impossible to cover everyone under such a method due to difficulties in securing doctors and venues.

They then decided to introduce a system in which people are individually vaccinated by their family doctors, who are familiar with their medical history and can handle cases of side effects.

Nerima has some 160,000 residents aged 65 or over. Of them, 104,000 people, or some 65 pct, will receive vaccines twice six weeks apart and over 60 pct of them will receive shots at 250 clinics.

Under the ward’s plan, these elderly residents will book an appointment at the clinics, which in turn will inform the ward office of the number of vaccinations they are going to need.

The ward is planning to use Pfizer Inc.’s vaccine, which needs to be stored at ultra-low temperatures.

The health ministry had initially said that deliveries involving small amounts of vaccines are limited to three facilities in principle.

After the ministry said that it allows small deliveries of 50 to 70 boxes of vaccines, Nerima decided to entrust a private-sector company to send vaccines to all clinics within the ward from four municipal facilities.

The vaccines, which will be stored in cool boxes, will be sorted and delivered under three hours. At the clinics, the vaccines will be refrigerated and used within five days.

“Although primary care doctors can’t take in coronavirus patients, they can cooperate with vaccinations,” an official at the Nerima medical association said.

While the clinics have no prior experiences in receiving swift deliveries involving goods stored under ultra-low temperatures, the official added, “We’ve just got to do it.”

The southwestern city of Fukuoka is also planning to offer a system centered around individual vaccinations at family doctors. Under the system, the city will also enable group vaccinations and vaccinations held at nursing homes and other locations.

Speaking at a press conference on Feb. 1, Fukuoka Mayor Soichiro Takashima said, “Primary care doctors know (vaccine recipients’) medical history and pre-existing conditions very well.”

Pointing to the Nerima Ward model, Daisaku Kadokawa, mayor of the western city of Kyoto, told a press conference on Feb. 2 that he will work together with the local medical association to introduce a similar system.

Other local governments, however, are divided over such a system as the situation differs in each municipality.

In the western prefecture of Yamaguchi, the town of Suooshima plans to have all of some 8,300 elderly residents receive individual vaccinations at 11 hospitals.

The decision was made “as it is difficult to assemble residents at each community, as they are scattered in small communities across the elongated island,” a town official said.

On the other hand, the Yamaguchi town of Waki will administer vaccines only through group vaccinations for the time being, out of fear that the inoculations would hamper general medical treatment as there are only two clinics within the town.

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