Efforts to vaccinate homeless people promoted in Japan

Support groups and local governments in Japan are promoting efforts to give coronavirus vaccinations to those who are unable to receive inoculation vouchers from municipalities, such as homeless people without resident registrations.

“We hope to realize a society where no one is left behind,” an official engaged in such efforts said, asking for assistance from the central government.

In collaboration with Medecins du Monde Japan, an authorized nonprofit organization, and other groups, Tokyo’s Toshima Ward hosted a vaccination session that allows people without vouchers, which are sent to citizens based on residence registries, to receive shots only by presenting their name and date of birth.

Ward officials visited parks, streets and internet cafes to call on those living there to get vaccinated.

A woman who was forced to quit her job at an izakaya pub due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic received her second shot of a COVID-19 vaccine on Nov. 27.

Hunting for a job while living on welfare, the woman said that job seekers are asked to show vaccination certificates. “Now that I’ve been vaccinated, I can go to a job interview with a security firm,” she said.

Koji Terashima, 40, who lives in an internet cafe, quit a gardening company two years ago due to poor health. He currently makes a living as a street magazine vendor. But his income fell as crowds decreased due to repeated requests to stay home to prevent the spread of infection.

Smiling, with a certificate of his second vaccination in his hand, Terashima still expressed worries, saying, “The crowds may be reduced if the new variant spreads.”

On one cold day, 64 people visited the Ikebukuro Public Health Center in Toshima Ward, where the vaccination session for people without inoculation vouchers was held, to receive COVID-19 shots.

Kenji Sawada, an official at the center, noted; “Although the number of COVID-19 patients has gone down, there still remains demand for vaccinations. There are people anxious about a possible sixth wave of infections.”

Akiko Mera, chief of the secretariat at Medecins du Monde Japan, stressed, “Amid expanding poverty, there are still people who have been unable to receive vaccinations.”

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