Japanese people are rushing and demanding more vaccinations as fears grow over Japan vaccine supply, especially in face of the rise of delta variant cases.
In certain cities in Japan, there’s a whisper echoing on the streets, people are starting to question if they will get the vaccine to combat the surge of the delta variant cases. Their choices seem to be hanging off a cliff edge and their fate intertwined with which comes first, the vaccine or the virus.
Japan has a shortage of vaccines, and the majority of the population is anxious to get vaccinated. So the government has had to step in and start a roll-out of the AstraZeneca vaccine just to cope with the demand.
The urgent rollout came as the province of Osaka has seen a daily surge in infections which have topped 2,000 per day, with the city of Osaka accounting for some 40% of the cases.
Japan has administered more than 125 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines and 43% of the population are fully vaccinated, according to government figures released last Tuesday.
The vaccination mark comes as Japan, like many other nations, is in the midst of a fresh wave of coronavirus infections attributed to the delta variant. Japan and its capital of Tokyo have reported record daily infection numbers for several days this month, as the Summer Olympics and Paralympics were drawing to a close.
Delta variant cases
The rise of delta variant cases has prompted the Japanese government to roll out the AstraZeneca vaccine to limit the bottleneck of shortages, and significantly curb the frustrations of the Japanese people.
Hisato Takeuchi, 49, who received an AstraZeneca shot in Osaka, said he felt more at risk from COVID-19 after one of his acquaintances recently became infected.
“I was not able to book my appointment for any other vaccine. I thought there should be an opening slot for AstraZeneca (because of reported concerns about side effects),” he said.
Another local resident, Reiko Sakamoto, 64, said, “I’m so relieved to get my vaccination at last. I was not worried about side effects that much, because I was desperate to receive my shot as soon as possible.”
Meanwhile, a facility to provide oxygen support to COVID-19 patients with relatively mild symptoms started operating Monday in Tokyo to relieve the strain on the capital’s medical system as infections surge.
The oxygen station set up by the metropolitan government in the capital’s Shibuya Ward will run around the clock. It has 130 beds and is staffed by three doctors and 25 nurses.
It is designed to treat patients who have been asked to recuperate at home but who have concerns about over-breathing. Stays are likely to be short-term, such as one or two nights.
Those who feel better after receiving oxygen support will be sent back home, while patients whose symptoms become severe will be considered for admission to a hospital.
Japan vaccine supply
The city of Osaka is on a high alert and plans to immediately administer around 4000 shots per week. Vaccinations have been fully booked for the first seven days. It plans to open another vaccination site on Aug. 30.
While the city said it still expects to complete inoculation of its residents wishing to receive shots using mainly the vaccines developed by Pfizer and Moderna by November, it hopes the AstraZeneca shots will speed up the process.
As of Sunday, more than 39,000 patients in Tokyo were recovering at home or elsewhere without hospital admission, underscoring the urgent need to expand the support system in the capital.
The metropolitan government plans to add another 110 beds with oxygen-station capacity within hospitals it runs by the end of this month.
Japan suspends 1.6m doses of Moderna vaccine shot after contamination reports
Japan and Moderna said no safety or efficacy issues had been identified and the suspension was just a precaution. But the move prompted several Japanese companies to cancel worker vaccinations planned for Thursday and led the European drugs regulator to launch an investigation into the matter.
“Moderna confirms having been notified of cases of the particular matter being seen in drug product vials of its COVID-19 vaccine,” the U.S. vaccine maker said in a statement, adding it put the lot in question and two adjacent lots on hold.
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