Large-scale vaccinations off to sluggish start in Hiroshima

Usage at two large-scale COVID-19 vaccination centers in Hiroshima City was disappointingly low on the first two days of opening over the weekend.

Hoping to help give Hiroshima’s vaccination program a boost, two large scale vaccination sites started administering shots to elderly city residents this past weekend.

News of the large volume vaccination sites was welcome after the release of the numbers from the first month of the COVID-19 vaccination drive in Hiroshima Prefecture did little to inspire hope that we would all soon be released from pandemic purgatory anytime soon.

Excitement that it would provide the shot in the arm that many were looking for was, however, short lived, as use of the sites during the first two days was far from capacity. According to a Chugoku Shinbun report, on June 12, the first day that the sites at Green Arena and Hiroshima Sun Plaza were open, only 26.2% of the slots available were filled.

On day one, Green Arena in central Hiroshima had 70 medical staff on hand (enough to vaccinate 2028 people), but only 395 people were actually vaccinated.

Sun Plaza in Nishi-ku was staffed by 45 medical personnel from Hiroshima University Hospital. Here, 549 out of 1570 slots were filled.

At both sites combined, 3310 slots were available for the following day, Sunday June 13, but, as of 5pm on Saturday, only 371 reservations (11.2%) had been received.

RCC News reported that at the same time that the Green Arena and Sun Plaza sites were barely half full, a smaller site in an unused shop in the Shareo shopping center, just a short walk from Green Arena, was fully booked. To their credit, RCC did spend a good portion of their report interviewing people who had received their shots and spreading the word that there was nothing to fear from the Moderna vaccine and encourage others to get vaccinated as soon as possible.

Chugoku Shinbun reports that the low reservation numbers are in large part due to the fact that many of the coupons that are necessary to make an appointment at one of the vaccination sites have yet to be sent out. Mayor Matsui recently committed to moving up the sending out of coupons from the original schedule, but it is proving difficult to proceed any faster than the new targets. City officials are quoted as saying that the preparation and printing of envelopes and coupons for such a large population inevitably takes time.

As of today (June 14) coupons to all Hiroshima City residents have now been sent and coupons for the 70-74 age groups started going out today. The coupons for those 65 to 69 years old are scheduled to start going out on June 21. Those 12-64 years old will have to wait until early July, with reservations due to open in the middle of that month. When vaccinations for the under 65s will actually start is still under consideration.

Better news is reported from Fukuyama, where despite low initial numbers at its own “large volume” vaccination sites, close to all of the 1800 slots available each day between June 13 and 17 have been filled after expanding eligibility to those 65 and over.

Chugoku Shinbun 1 | 2

RCC News 1 | 2

June 14, 2021