Unsubmitted vaccine cards may delay booster shots in Japan

Courtesy of Tohoku University public relations office
A person receives a vaccination at Tohoku University in Sendai in June. People were able to be vaccinated without a vaccine card, but many have yet to submit their cards to the university.

Some people who were vaccinated at workplaces and universities during vaccination drives that started last summer have still not submitted their vaccination cards to their workplaces or schools.

If the cards are not submitted, municipal governments cannot obtain data on vaccinations, which could delay booster shots.

As infections from the omicron variant spread, the government is calling for a faster timeline for administering boosters, and local governments, companies and universities are urging people to submit their vaccination cards as soon as possible.

Asking again and again

Keio University began offering vaccinations in June. By September, the two-shot course had been administered to about 50,000 students, faculty, janitors and others at the university.

Courtesy of Sendai municipal government
Image of a vaccine card

However, as of Dec. 9 about 5,000 people, or about 10% of the total, had not submitted their vaccination cards.

“We have continually asked people to submit [their vaccination cards] by email or other means, but many still haven’t done so,” a university public relations official said.

At Tohoku University in Sendai, about 12,500 students and others were vaccinated.

As of October, when the second shots were completed, about 2,600 of them had not submitted their vaccination cards. The university sent emails and made phone calls to get people to comply, but still has not received cards from about 170 people.

Shot now, card later

For workplace and university vaccination drives, people are supposed to bring the vaccination cards sent to them from their municipality to be submitted to the company or school.

The company or university then records the number on the vaccination card and registers it with the government’s vaccination record system (VRS).

Then the card itself and the preliminary examination form are sent to the person’s municipality of residence. Through this process, local governments can learn who among their residents were vaccinated at workplaces or universities.

However, to increase the speed of vaccinations last summer, some venues allowed people to get vaccinated without a card, with the understanding they would submit it once it arrived. However, many neglected to do so.

East Japan Railway Co. conducted workplace vaccinations for its about 41,600 employees in all its group companies, but it still has yet to receive vaccination cards from nearly 400 people.

Japan Airlines also said it has not received cards from several hundred people. Both companies said they have asked employees to submit them.


If a card from a workplace or university vaccination is not submitted, the university or company cannot register the person with VRS, and the municipality will have no way of knowing who received workplace or university vaccinations.

In such a case, even if someone actually received both shots at a workplace or university, they will not be issued a card for a third shot.

The government announced this month it would move up the schedule for workplace and university vaccination drives, but some municipalities have expressed consternation over issuing vaccine cards.

Since December, the Saitama municipal government has received numerous inquiries from people who received workplace or university vaccinations, saying they cannot see their vaccine records on the central government’s app.

Some of them have probably not submitted their vaccination cards.

“If we can’t send out cards for booster shots, the vaccination effort will be delayed. If anyone still has a vaccination card, please submit it to your company or university soon,” a city official in charge of the matter said.

In Sendai, organizations that held workplace and university vaccinations have approached the municipal government over what to do about people who have not submitted their vaccination cards.

The city tells them to convey to these people that because they cannot be issued a card for a third shot, their booster vaccination could be delayed.