The Japanese government plans to administer a COVID-19 vaccine to medical workers, as well as elderly people and those with underlying health problems, on a priority basis, once such a vaccine is put into practical use, Jiji Press learned Wednesday. This vaccination priority is aimed at ensuring adequate medical services, informed sources said. The government is expected to draw up an outline of its COVID-19 vaccination program at a related panel meeting on Friday. The panel on the novel coronavirus, responsible for the respiratory illness, initially planned to include pregnant women in the vaccination priority group. But this plan has been dropped, due to a clinical test on a potential COVID-19 vaccine suggesting higher risks of side-effects such as headache and fever than those from other vaccines, the sources said.
The government plans to offer vaccinations against the new coronavirus free of charge to all citizens in Japan, sources said Wednesday. The government is set to shoulder all costs to secure by the end of June next year sufficient supplies of coronavirus vaccines that are currently being developed in Japan and abroad. It will spend ¥670 billion from its reserve funds under fiscal 2020 supplementary budgets to secure COVID-19 vaccines. The policy of providing free coronavirus vaccinations will be unveiled at a meeting of a health ministry advisory panel as early next week, according to the sources. With the envisaged free vaccinations, the government aims to encourage the public to get COVID-19 vaccinations promptly soon after the vaccines are developed.
A South Boston bus company whose business has dropped dramatically since the coronavirus pandemic hit last year is looking at transforming its fleet into mobile vaccination centers. Yankee Line already has redesigned a portion of its 70 buses to each accommodate six vaccination stations and is in talks with the federal, state and local government about repurposing them for the state's vaccine rollout, said Michael Costa, the company's manager. "Our industry, which is mostly tourism-based, has been brought to a standstill, so we're eager to pivot our idle resources," Costa said. In the buses that have been reconfigured, he said, about half of their 50 seats have been removed to make room for the vaccination stations; each would have refrigeration for the Moderna vaccine, which has to be frozen at about minus 4 degrees Fahrenheit; and each would have space for dry-ice storage for the Pfizer vaccine, which has to be kept at about minus 94 degrees Fahrenheit. The buses also would have ramps to make them handicapped-accessible, as well as Wi-Fi and power outlets for laptops needed for record keeping, Costa said.
Gallup surveyed more than 3,500 random adults between August 16-22 on a variety of vaccine mandates. Results showed 61% of Americans favor vaccination requirements for air travel, 53% of respondents support vaccine proof for dining out, and 56% of those polled support mandates for their office or work settings. But researchers warn these numbers show widespread vaccination mandates would come with a lot of pushback. "In short, if it came to a national referendum, these vaccination proof requirements would win -- but with significant opposition," reports Gallup researcher Frank Newport. Gallup began polling Americans on hypothetical vaccination requirements in April, and support for showing proof has grown across the board.
The rapidly climbing vaccination rate has flip-flopped the situation in medical practices and vaccination centers. Whereas they used to complain of a shortage of doses, now, they sometimes have trouble finding enough patients. In Bremen, for example, every 10th appointment for a first vaccine dose is either being cancelled or patients simply aren't showing up, says Lukas Fuhrmann, the health spokesman from Bremen. It is rare, he says, for appointments for a second dose to be missed. "Slowly, it's becoming difficult to find people who aren't yet vaccinated."