Slow pace of Covid vaccination does not perturb Vietnamese in Japan

By Viet Anh   June 25, 2021 | 10:30 pm PT
Slow pace of Covid vaccination does not perturb Vietnamese in Japan
A woman receives a dose of the Moderna vaccine in Tokyo, Japan, June 14, 2021. Photo by Reuters.
Vietnamese in Japan are waiting patiently to get the Covid-19 shot and believe vaccination, now admittedly slow, will speed up soon.

Japan is thought to be "slow" in vaccinating people. According to Our World in Data, around 20 percent of its population have got one shot and over 9 percent are fully vaccinated.

At the same time Tokyo has been donating vaccines to several countries in Asia.

Japan has a low rate of vaccination due to certain reasons, Pham Hung An, a Vietnamese working in Tokyo, told VnExpress International.

The country approved the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in February and implemented vaccination for health workers right after that. However, mass vaccination was only conducted from mid-June.

An said Japanese people are skeptical about the safety of Pfizer vaccine partly because the government approved it unusually quickly and newspapers have been writing about complications and deaths they cause.

He has not been called yet to get the vaccine since he lives in Chiba, around 20 km from Tokyo and not a priority area in vaccination program, he said.

"I guess it will take a long time for me to get the vaccine."

Pham Hung An is in Naga city, Japan, in April, 2021. Photo courtesy of An.

Pham Hung An is in Nara city, Japan, in April 2021. Photo courtesy of Pham Hung An.

According to Kyodo News, while Japan has secured enough AstraZeneca vaccines for 60 million people and approved their use in May, it does not intend to use them immediately in public inoculation programs due to cases of blood clots being reported overseas.

Nguyen Phuong (name changed), who lives in Osaka, said she does not think Japan’s vaccination program is slow but that merely the government needs to select age groups in a certain order and closely monitor people after they get the shot to ensure their safety.

In her residential area, people aged 65 and more are getting the vaccine first. People aged 20-30 are scheduled to be vaccinated in July and August.

"While I am in the waiting list, I am looking for information to be better prepared."

When asked about attitudes towards the vaccine, she said people, including Vietnamese, are not too keen on getting a shot, explaining that some fear side effects and others want to have the best possible vaccine to ensure safety.

Dang Thi Bao Tran, who lives in Kobe, said another reason for the "modest speed" of the inoculation program in Japan is that old people are not good at using the Internet to register even if they are in the priority list.

Besides, the number of hotline operators is insufficient to meet demand, she said.

She expected things to speed up in July when young and middle-aged people are vaccinated.

She herself has got two shots of the Pfizer vaccine because she works in a hospital.

Dang Thi Bao Tran is in Awaji Island, Hyogo Prefecture, Japan, in June, 2021. Photo courtesy of Tran.

Dang Thi Bao Tran is in Awaji Island, Hyogo Prefecture, Japan, in June 2021. Photo courtesy of Dang Thi Bao Tran.

In Sakaiminato city, Truong Cuong, a Vietnamese working in a nursing home, said he does not know about the pace of vaccination but all his colleagues want to get a jab.

Local authorities are increasing the number of vaccination sites and have even canceled several Japanese tests for foreigners to take over the exam locations. Cuong is in a priority list and so got the first shot of the Pfizer vaccine, and will have the second in late June.

Not much worry

Tran said though she had high fever after getting the vaccine, she felt good and secure with her work at the hospital.

An said he does not worry much about the risk of contracting Covid, especially after knowing the disease might not be serious for young people.

Life in Tokyo has been normal for a long time now since people seem to be "tired" of the pandemic, he said. They go out to work and for other activities regardless of the fact that the number of new cases is increasing by the day, he said.

He himself has no difficulties at work and daily life except for the fact he has been unable to visit Vietnam and his family.

Phuong said she always wears a mask and follows social distancing rules to be cautious.

"But I am not too worried because I have become familiar with the new normal caused by the pandemic."

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