Focus on vaccination speed, not perfection, to contain pandemic

Vaccinations against COVID-19 must be accelerated through large-scale, intensive efforts. The central and local governments are urged to use all their expertise to proceed efficiently.

At mass vaccination sites in Tokyo and Osaka set up by the Defense Ministry, vaccinations have begun. Doctors and nurses of the Self-Defense Forces as well as civilian nurses and others are stationed there, with the aim of vaccinating about 10,000 people per day at the Tokyo site and about 5,000 people per day at the Osaka venue.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has set a goal of completing vaccinations for the elderly by the end of July. To advance the vaccination program in a focused manner in cities with large populations, it is highly significant to make use of the SDF’s mobility.

The newly approved vaccine made by U.S. biotechnology firm Moderna, Inc. will be used at the large-scale sites. The vaccine is said to be 94% effective in preventing the onset of COVID-19, which is comparable to the vaccine already in use manufactured by U.S. pharmaceutical giant Pfizer Inc.

The two vaccines differ in their vaccination intervals and management methods. It is a reasonable approach to set up special venues for parallel use.

The central government is urging those who will be vaccinated not to double-book at the large-scale sites and their local venues.

After making reservations at the large-scale sites, those who have already made appointments for their local venues should immediately contact their municipalities to make a cancellation. It is important to be careful not to let precious vaccination opportunities go to waste.

At the municipal venues, the handling of surplus vaccines due to cancellations and other reasons has become an issue. Administrative and regulatory reform minister Taro Kono, who is also in charge of the vaccination program, emphasized that even people without vaccination tickets can be vaccinated in requesting that all doses be used up.

There have been example cases of giving shots to people sought out to be on waiting lists or to schoolteachers that were contacted. It is important for municipalities to respond flexibly.

Aichi, Gunma and Miyagi are among the increasing number of prefectures that have begun to set up their own mass vaccination sites.

Since it is the municipalities that are responsible for vaccinating their residents, the central and prefectural governments are urged to support their efforts. It is essential to provide detailed support according to the actual circumstances of each municipality, such as dispatching doctors and nurses and securing venues.

A multilayered system should be created by seeking cooperation not only from local medical practitioners, but also from companies that have appointed physicians in their workplaces.

It is unfortunate that there was a glitch in the Defense Ministry’s system that prevented reservations from being accepted. However, if the pursuit of perfection delays the program as a whole, that would be a misplacement of priorities. If problems arise, they should be corrected promptly each time.

Some media outlets made reservations by entering falsified information and reported on their specific techniques. This cannot be said to be an appropriate method of reporting. News organizations need to be aware of their responsibilities.

— The original Japanese article appeared in The Yomiuri Shimbun on May 25, 2021.