Devise ways of securing medical staff to administer vaccines at workplaces

COVID-19 vaccines not only protect individuals, but also help prevent the novel coronavirus from spreading in society as a whole. It is essential to secure medical personnel who can administer vaccines as soon as possible to increase the opportunities and venues for vaccination.

The government has decided to allow vaccinations at companies and universities, and has started accepting applications. Most of these firms and schools will start vaccinations on June 21, but it is also possible that they can implement them even sooner.

While companies and universities will need to secure on their own the doctors and nurses to administer vaccines as well as the venues for vaccination, the government will deliver the vaccine developed by U.S. biotech firm Moderna, Inc. and special freezers. The government will pay a certain amount of the cost depending on the number of vaccinations.

Many large companies have indicated their intention to implement vaccinations. They need to steadily promote the vaccination of employees and expand the scope of the inoculations to include their related companies and subcontractors.

Small and midsize enterprises find it difficult to implement the program on their own. Local governments, chambers of commerce and industry and medical associations must cooperate to provide support, according to individual circumstances.

The Kinosaki onsen ryokan cooperative, an association of hot spring accommodations in Hyogo Prefecture, said that hotels and inns in the area will jointly provide inoculations. This type of effort may serve as a useful reference.

Vaccinations of young people at universities are of great significance as their activities tend to range over a wide area and thus are likely to spread the infection. Currently, many universities offer online classes. However, if vaccinations progress, a shift to in-person classes can be expected.

The challenge for both companies and universities is to secure medical personnel. In some areas, doctors are in short supply and their medical fees are skyrocketing. In the case of universities that do not have a medical school or an affiliated hospital, it is difficult to figure out how to implement vaccinations.

Recently, vaccination of the elderly has been progressing and some of the mass vaccination venues run by the central and prefectural governments have been unable to fill all the reservation slots. It is advisable that the central government will monitor the overall vaccination situation and allow the general public under age 65, including people from companies and universities, to get vaccinated at these venues.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has said that the government aims to finish vaccinations by October or November for all people who want to get vaccinated. Even if there are enough vaccines, it cannot be achieved if the vaccination system is inadequate.

In order for vaccinations to spread quickly, it is important to allow people to flexibly choose at their desire venues for vaccinations, such as those run by local governments, workplaces or universities.

Government ministries and agencies have established consultation services for each type of business. These include the Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry for the manufacturing industry; the Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry for construction and real estate industries; and the Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry for universities. It is necessary to eliminate bureaucratic sectionalism and share information so as not to cause confusion at vaccination venues.

Vaccines cannot completely prevent infection. People who have been vaccinated also should continue to take measures against infection for the time being through such measures as wearing masks.

— The original Japanese article appeared in The Yomiuri Shimbun on June 11, 2021.