Japan companies step up vaccination support

The Yomiuri Shimbun
A man is vaccinated at a commercial facility run by Aeon Co. in Chitose, Hokkaido, in May.

In a bid to accelerate vaccinations against COVID-19, thereby contributing to an economic recovery, companies are offering various forms of support for their employees and local residents.

Staff are being allowed to receive inoculations during working hours, for example, and accompany family members who are getting shots. Companies are also helping people make appointments to get vaccinated, and accelerating efforts to administer vaccines at corporate-run medical institutions.

Transportation expenses

In May, a 47-year-old employee of Yahoo Japan Corp. took a leave of absence to accompany her parents, who were getting vaccinated at a commercial facility in Kanagawa Prefecture.

Yahoo allows employees not only to get vaccinated during working hours but also to take special paid leave for such purposes as going with family members to a vaccination site.

“My parents are in their 80s and in good health, but they’re old and tire easily. So I went with them just in case,” she said.

A Yahoo official said: “Our first priority is the health of our employees and their families. We want to create an environment in which employees can readily get vaccinated, so they won’t get seriously ill and clusters won’t occur.”

Asahi Group Holdings, Ltd. considers the travel time to and from a vaccination venue as part of working hours when employees accompany family members who live with them. SoftBank Corp. allows about 25,000 employees, including contract workers and part-timers, to be vaccinated during working hours, and pays for their transportation.

Providing venues

There are also moves to help people make reservations to be inoculated.

Convenience store operator Lawson, Inc. launched a service at its outlets that have nursing care consultation counters, in which volunteers, nursing care providers and others help elderly people use their smartphones and other devices to make an appointment.

Cell phone sales company Conexio Corp. also helps with vaccination reservations at more than 200 outlets.

Ticket sales company Pia Corp. provides local governments with a vaccination reservation system that utilizes the know-how cultivated in its main business. When multiple people who have received vaccination vouchers request the same time, date or venue for a vaccination, the system automatically chooses for them at random.

The system is said to be capable of handling simultaneous access by hundreds of thousands of people when arranging reservations.

Companies are also offering their own facilities as vaccination venues. In response to requests from local governments, for example, Aeon Co. is allowing the use of its facilities at shopping centers and elsewhere.

Mitsubishi Motors Corp. plans to let a local government use a gym at its plant in Aichi Prefecture as a vaccination venue, and Dai-ichi Life Insurance Co. is also considering providing its about 90 locations nationwide.

Corporate-run hospitals

Efforts are speeding up to use hospitals established and run by corporations.

Kawasaki-based Fujitsu Clinic, run by Fujitsu Ltd., began offering vaccinations to local residents Monday.

In response to a request from the local medical association, a doctor is available once or twice a week in the clinic’s hall.

“It’s difficult to balance vaccinations with our regular medical services and health check-ups, but we’ll do our best,” said hospital president Toshiya Ishii.

Corporate hospitals run by Hitachi, Ltd., Japan Post Co. and Isuzu Motors Ltd. are likewise providing vaccinations to local residents. In many cases, the hospitals provide medical treatment and health checkups for employees and their families, as well as general medical examinations for local residents.