MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan – The city of Iwakuni recently began its COVID-19 vaccination campaign for Japanese citizens aged 65 and over at the fitness center it shares with the Marine Corps.
Japan has been slow with its vaccination program. About 2% of the population had been fully vaccinated by Sunday, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center. In contrast, about 40% of the US population is fully vaccinated.
“I am unhappy with the Japanese government because vaccination in Japan is delayed compared to the United States and England,” Iwao Tamura, 69, said Thursday as he waited for his first dose of the two-dose Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. at the Atago. Sports Complex.
However, Tamura said he was happy with the way Iwakuni is handling vaccinations.
The city began its vaccination campaign for those 65 and over on Thursday at the sports complex, a common-use facility developed by the Japanese government and Japanese US forces. It is accessible to Japanese citizens and US personnel.
“The sports complex is one of the many sites where group vaccinations will be administered in the city, but it will be the location that hosts most vaccination days,” said Satoe Kataama, head of the promotion division of City Health, to Stars and Stripes by phone on May 14.
“The city plans to carry out vaccinations for around 300 residents per day first and hopes to expand to a maximum of around 500 residents in Atago,” she said.
Base commander Col. Lance Lewis suggested the sports complex as a vaccination site during a visit by Iwakuni Mayor Yoshihiko Fukuda and other city officials in January, Kataama said. The city delegation came to see the base inoculation clinic.
“We invited the mayor of Iwakuni and representatives from his health unit to the air station to view our vaccination efforts and share the lessons we have learned with our city counterparts,” Lewis told Stars and Stripes in an email Friday. “During the visit, our medical providers demonstrated our process for rapid staff screening and inoculation.”
Fukuda said the visit would help the city with preparations for mass vaccinations.
“The procedure and arrangement taken here will be very useful for infection control measures and an efficient way to move people when the city needs to set up a large vaccination place, such as a gymnasium,” he said. he said Jan. 28 after visiting the base, according to a statement on the city’s website.
The air station and the city jointly manage and administer the Atago Sports Complex as a municipal park.
“Throughout this pandemic, we have partnered with the city of Iwakuni to share our best practices and learn from each other,” Lewis said in his email. “Despite the difficulties of operating in a COVID environment, the challenges of this past year only bring us closer to our counterparts in the local community.”
Stars and Stripes reporter Hana Kusumoto contributed to this report.
The city of Iwakuni, Japan, is holding a vaccination clinic at the Atago Sports Complex, which is shared with the nearby Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, on Thursday, May 20, 2021.
JONATHAN SNYDER / STARS AND STRIPES