I would like to share some information about how the fourth dose of COVID-19 vaccines will be handled in Yokohama.
First, the national government has stipulated that you should wait at least five months after your first booster before getting this vaccination. The government has also identified people ages 60 and older and those with underlying medical conditions as eligible for this shot.
Therefore, residents 59 years old or younger who have underlying medical conditions are also eligible for this vaccination. The vaccines used will be the same as the types used for the first two doses and the booster: Takeda/Moderna or Pfizer. About 1.25 million residents are expected to qualify for this fourth shot.
As for how we arrived at that number, there are 1.08 million residents who are at least 60 years old and have completed the initial two vaccinations, and if we assume that every one of them will get the third dose of vaccine, while it is possible not all of them will do so, on the premise that they do, that is 1.08 million people.
In addition, there are 2.01 million residents between the ages of 18 and 59. While we do not have exact numbers of the people with underlying medical conditions, the national government’s vaccination guidelines suggest that they make up about 8.2% of the population, so of 2.01 million people, that would be 170 thousand residents. So if we take this 170 thousand and add it to the 1.08 million from before, we see that we can expect a maximum of 1.25 million eligible residents.
We have not confirmed the timing, but we are planning to start vaccinations in late May. In May, the number of people eligible will still be low, since people must wait five months between doses, so we expect vaccinations will peak in July and August.
So, if you were last boosted with the vaccine in February, then the fourth vaccination can be made in July. A minimum of five months is required between shots, so you can get this second booster at any time after that length of time.
One concern is that some residents with underlying medical conditions will want to get the vaccination quickly, but they are required to wait five months after their last shot, so we need to make sure to communicate this fact to residents in both 60+ and 18-59 age groups. We are considering a simultaneous distribution of vaccination vouchers to inform both age groups.
Residents 60 and older are eligible for the fourth shot and can make a reservation as soon as they receive the voucher. Residents age 59 and younger can only make reservations if they have an underlying medical condition. Residents who do not meet either of those conditions will also receive vouchers in the mail, but they are not eligible for the vaccination.
I think it is important to prevent people who are not eligible for the vaccination from making reservations by mistake after receiving the vaccination voucher. Here is an illustration of the envelope that will be sent out, and the eligible persons will be shown prominently.
In addition, I believe that many residents 59 and younger make their appointments online, based on data from the first three vaccinations, so we plan to clearly announce online when residents in that age group are eligible. We will also carefully monitor reservations made through the call center or via the city’s postal reservation service to ensure only eligible residents are making reservations.
We are planning to send out the first batch of vaccination vouchers on Friday, May 20. The city has decided to distribute vouchers before the vaccination is available; i.e. three weeks before the end of the required five-month interval between vaccinations.
The official start of vaccinations will be decided once the national government revises its ordinance. I have heard that it is scheduled to be revised around the end of May, so the vaccination program for the fourth dose should start by the end of May or later. We will send out vaccination vouchers on Friday, May 20, which should arrive within one or two business days, so residents will be able to make reservations immediately starting that Monday or Tuesday. After that, reservations will start to become available up to three weeks in advance.
While the first and second shots of the primary vaccination series were somewhat inconvenient for many residents, I understand that there were very few complaints about the process for the third vaccination.
Comparatively, there were much fewer requests to improve the system, and some residents even praised the system. We will continue to work to keep the process running smoothly.
Individual vaccinations use both Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, and mass vaccination venues use Moderna. At most around two thousand health care facilities offer individual vaccinations of the Pfizer vaccine. This is a large number of locations to supply with vaccines, but we hope to keep it around this number.
About 600 locations provide individual vaccinations of the Moderna vaccine. We will maintain the mass vaccination arrangement of nine mass vaccination venues and two large-scale venues.
Once you receive the vaccination voucher, you can make a reservation with your regular doctor online; if your doctor is one that does not make their practice public for online vaccine reservations, you will need to call the clinic directly to make a reservation.
Online reservations can be made via the web or the LINE app. Also, there was a great response to the system for arranging vaccinations for the first 3 shots using the reservation service at nearly all of the 302 post offices in the city, so we will continue offering that service. About 21,000 reservations were made using the service. Ward offices across the city also provided this service, and 16,766 reservations were made this way for a total of about 36-37 thousand total, so we have expanded the number of ward office personnel at 18 ward offices from 36 to 90. I believe elderly residents were the most common users of this reservation tool. While we do not know if all of them were age 65 and older, between 80 and 90% of the 900 thousand residents in that age group has been vaccinated, so our data suggests we have been able to support a significant proportion of this population.
As for the reservation call center, at its peak of reservations for the third vaccination we had 560 personnel. On some days, however, 560 was not enough, and the response rate, or percentage of calls that are answered immediately, dropped. We are therefore considering further increasing the number of personnel to a maximum of 650.
This concludes my remarks on the 4th vaccination.