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Local governments in Japan are stepping up efforts to vaccinate as many homeless people as possible against the coronavirus.

Such governments are working with support groups to encourage homeless people to get vaccinated although many have not received vaccination tickets due to not having permanent addresses.

The office of Tokyo’s Taito Ward started in late August informing homeless people of its vaccination program through a support group, and carried out the first round of mass vaccinations on Sept. 10-11 at a local labor and welfare center.

The office distributed numbered tickets to applicants in advance at the center. For those who did not have ID documentation, personnel of the ward office interviewed them to get their names and dates of birth.

A total of 89 people from their 30s to 80s who spend time on the streets, at internet cafes or other locations received shots of Pfizer Inc.’s COVID-19 vaccine.

After getting an injection, a 51-year-old man who had slept outdoors since October last year said with a smile, “I’m glad I could be inoculated.”

The office of Tokyo’s Toshima Ward plans to administer the first vaccine shots to about 100 homeless people on Oct. 30. Working with Tenohasi, a support group for homeless people, and others, the office will accept reservations at a soup kitchen in a park on Oct. 23.

“We’ve lagged behind due to a vaccine shortage. We’re planning to encourage visitors to the soup kitchen to get vaccinated,” an official of the ward office said.

The municipal government of Yokohama held vaccination consultation meetings for homeless people on Aug. 3-5 and Sept. 10. It issued vaccination tickets to those who wish to receive shots and made reservations for them. About 30 people are expected to be fully vaccinated by late October.

In April, the health ministry called on local governments across Japan to work with support groups to inform homeless people about vaccines. In July, the ministry asked local governments to be flexible and act at their own discretion if an applicant has no ID documentation.

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