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Message from the Mayor about booster shots using the Omicron-adapted COVID-19 vaccine (2022.9.14)

Last updated date:2022/9/14

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I will now present a report about COVID-19 vaccines.

This report is about the vaccine that targets the Omicron strain, which has received coverage in the media. Yokohama has been preparing to make this Omicron-adapted vaccine available. As various media outlets have reported, it is a “bivalent” vaccine that is effective against both the original virus and the BA.1 strain.

The Pfizer vaccine for those 12 and older, and the Moderna vaccine for those 18 and older are available, and those will be provided first.

First, individuals who have completed the first two doses and are at least 12 years of age are eligible. For example, I have received the vaccine three times, and it has been five months since the last dose, so I would be eligible for this vaccine. Everyone who has received at least two doses at least five months ago would also be eligible.

We expect that a fairly large number, around 3.02 million people. of Yokohama residents are eligible under these requirements.
Of those eligible, about 2.21 million have not yet received either their first or second booster shots.

This 2.21 million includes those up to 59 years old who have no underlying conditions, who have completed at least the initial two doses but may not have received the booster shots.

Individuals who are 60 years old or older, who have underlying medical conditions, or work as health care personnel will have received the second booster, and number around 810 thousand.

As the second booster vaccinations started in late May, we can expect that those who received it will be eligible for this fifth shot around the end of October. If vaccinations were to begin immediately, I believe that many who have not received the first or second booster will wish to get this vaccine in late October.

Reservations will open at 9 a.m. on Thursday, September 22. The city’s position will accept reservations from all eligible applicants.

As I mentioned earlier, individuals who are 12 years of age or older, have received at least the first two doses of vaccine, and who received their most recent dose at least 5 months ago are eligible. We are expecting the earliest possible start date for vaccinations will be September 26, as this is when the vaccine will be supplied by the national government. The vaccines will be sent out on the week of the 19th, officially, so while we do not know what day of the week they will ship, we expect that vaccinations will be able to start on September 26th. While we may have to start on September 27 depending on the delivery schedule, note that reservations do open on September 22.

We also intend to change the conventional vaccine to the Omicron-targeting vaccine starting from September 26 for the first, second, and third booster shots as well. The national government has indicated that the initial set of two doses will continue to use the conventional vaccine.

Facility-wide vaccinations can begin as soon as the vaccine arrives, and individual vaccinations at the 2,000 local health care facilities and clinics can also begin once they receive their supplies.

Mass vaccinations using the Pfizer vaccine will be provided at 9 locations. Venues in Minatomirai, Center Minami, and Namiki-Chuo will begin operations starting on October 7 and typically operate 5 days a week, Tuesday through Saturday. Hours will generally be from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., but depending on the spaces or commercial facilities rented, individual venue times may vary. Some venues may close at 8:30 p.m., or only accept appointments until 7:45 p.m., so please confirm exact times for the venue you select, but in general, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. should be the approximate times at all venues. The Yokohama Station west exit venue, in particular, will operate nighttime and early-morning vaccinations that have been popular. Previously, these irregular vaccine times were offered at a university hospital, but we have rented a more convenient venue at the west exit of Yokohama Station. The Tenri Building venue is normally open from 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. On Thursdays and Fridays, vaccinations will be available until 11:45 p.m., and early morning vaccinations will be available on Saturdays.

Many requests have been made for vaccinations on Thursdays and Fridays by people worried about side effects, so we plan to offer vaccinations until 11:45 p.m. on those days for people to visit after work. As I indicated before, we have already sent out vaccine vouchers to all residents in advance, since we expect those 59 and under to get their second booster shots in October.

Those who have completed their initial vaccinations and first booster should have received their voucher for the second booster, and those who have completed just the initial two doses should have received the voucher for their first booster. Once you have your ticket, you can make an appointment online or bring it directly to a mass vaccination venue. Please contact us individually for assistance if you believe your ticket was sent but has since been lost.

In addition, we will send out an additional notice to eligible residents to inform them about getting the first or second booster shot. Eligible Yokohama residents will be sent a postcard with the procedures to follow and what to do if your voucher was lost. Let us know if you do not receive this postcard. If you wish to get the vaccine but have lost your voucher, please contact the call center so they may assist you.

As indicated on the presentation materials, in general, we ask that you have the voucher reissued before getting the vaccination. For administrative purposes, we need to use the voucher numbers to compare vaccination histories and keep records of who has received how many vaccinations. However, we also understand that some residents may have various reasons to want to be vaccinated more quickly, so we established a system whereby those individuals can get the vaccine as soon as they receive the postcard and visit the mass vaccination venue.

We have sent vouchers to everyone eligible, so in general we ask that you use them to get vaccinations. If you have not received one, it means the requisite five months since your last vaccination has not passed yet. For example, those who have completed their first booster shot and are waiting to get the second will be sent the voucher about three weeks prior to the five-month mark since getting the first booster.

In general, we ask that you make advance reservations to get the vaccine using the voucher that is delivered to you.

There is no issue with going through your regular doctor, but we also encourage the use of the mass vaccination venues as well. Reservations can be made online through the dedicated website or through the LINE app. The popular reservation service may also continue to be used. Individuals with hearing loss and cannot use the internet may also make reservations by FAX or other means.

While we expect that most reservations will be made online or via smartphone, those who have difficulties may use the reservation service at 302 post offices in the city.

There are a few post offices of the 306 in the city that do not offer the service, but basically almost all of them can make reservations on your behalf.

When we looked at the number of reservations made using this service on behalf of residents “60 years or older or have underlying medical conditions,” we found that 20,167 reservations were made for the second booster. While this may not exactly account for that number, I believe it has helped a great number of residents. We have also established a reservation service system with about 90 personnel divided among the 18 ward offices.

Nearly 20,000 reservations were made using this service at the ward offices over the same period. The reservation call center employs a maximum of 700 operators, but I am aware that when we had 565 operators during the first round of booster shots, there were times when the response rate would drop and users could not connect to an operator, so we have prepared the maximum 700 operators this time.

We note that these is still demand for the first two doses of vaccine, so those vaccinations will be provided at 10 local health care facilities using the conventional vaccine.

This concludes my report on the Omicron-adapted COVID-19 vaccine.

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