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Local governments in Japan are rushing to prepare for the vaccination of residents against the novel coronavirus.

Having to vaccinate a large number of people in a short period of time in an unprecedented task, municipalities are facing many challenges, such as selecting vaccination venues, securing doctors and nurses, and informing residents.

As part of efforts to tackle the situation, some small municipalities have forged cooperation in their vaccination programs.

The Japanese government plans to start the vaccination in late February. About 10,000 to 20,000 medical professionals will be first in line for inoculation, followed by other medical workers, older people and people with underlying conditions, and other citizens.

The municipal government of Sendai in northeastern Japan has stopped accepting reservations from the general public for the use in April of 60 civic centers in the city, and secured the places as candidate sites for vaccination.

Sendai has a large number of citizens, so group vaccination is unavoidable, its mayor, Kazuko Kori, said, adding, “We are moving to secure venues we can think of right now.” The city has a population of about 1.1 million.

On Monday, the Sendai Municipal Government set up a vaccination promotion office with a staff of 22 municipal employees, who will engage in work such as sending vaccination tickets and managing venues.

Hachioji in Tokyo plans to use gymnasiums at 108 public elementary and junior high schools in the city, which has a population of more than 500,000, as vaccination venues.

The city government hopes to conduct group vaccinations at 30 venues a day, with 500 to 1,000 residents to be given shots at each venue. This means that up to 30,000 citizens will get vaccinated a day.

The municipal government of Wakayama has installed freezers to keep coronavirus vaccines at seven hospitals in the city.

Each of the institutions will share the equipment with three neighboring hospitals, enabling vaccinations to be carried out at a total of 28 medical institutions. The city is considering securing more venues.

The city of Chichibu and the four nearby towns of Yokoze, Minano, Nagatoro and Ogano, all in Saitama Prefecture, and the Chichibu Medical Association, which covers the five municipalities, have signed a memorandum of understanding for cooperation in coronavirus vaccination.

The city and the towns plan to jointly set up a call center in early March to unify their consultation desks, with the aim of cutting related costs and streamlining administrative work concerned.

The five Saitama municipalities are still working to find vaccination venues while seeking to create an environment allowing residents to easily receive vaccinations. For example, people who live in Yokoze but work in Chichibu will be allowed to get vaccinated in Chichibu.

“The city and the towns have limited personnel and budgets, so the municipalities in the same area need to work together,” an official at a health office in Chichibu said.

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