• Jiji


The government on Tuesday closed COVID-19 mass vaccination centers in Tokyo and Osaka, set up and run by the Self-Defense Forces to promote inoculation, after six months of operations.

Some 1.96 million doses, or around 1% of the country’s total, were administered at the two venues — 1.31 million in Tokyo and 640,000 in Osaka.

The venues were initially slated to run from May 24 to the end of August, but the period was extended twice.

The daily quota of shots was set at 10,000 in Tokyo and 5,000 in Osaka. At first appointments filled up, but since late September over 80% of them had remained unreserved.

Given this situation and progress in vaccinations by municipalities, the government decided to close the two venues at the end of November after concluding that they had fulfilled their roles.

The mass vaccination centers “made significant achievements that met the people’s expectations,” said former Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, who ordered them to be set up, at a closing ceremony.

Information and data collected at the two venues, including on how people were guided and vaccine side effects, were made available to municipalities and hospitals preparing to set up their own mass vaccination sites, for reference.

About 57,000 SDF medical officers and nurses, together with private-sector nurses and employees from travel and temporary employment firms, were involved in operation of the SDF venues.

“Working with the private sector gave us valuable experience,” a senior Defense Ministry official said. “We want to make use of it for future disaster relief operations.”

Of the 1.2 million people who received their shots at either of the two venues by the end of September, 2,930 people, or 0.24%, showed side effects within 30 minutes after their inoculations, according to the Self-Defense Forces Central Hospital.

Most of the side effects were nonallergic reactions, while 329 people, or 0.03%, had allergic symptoms such as rashes. There were no life-threatening side effects.

Vaccinations are “safe enough given conditions right after inoculation,” said Ground Self-Defense Force Col. Shuichi Kawano of the Self-Defense Forces Central Hospital.

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