The first batch of Tohoku University students have received their coronavirus vaccination, as a university-wide rollout began on June 21. This is in line with the Japanese government's policy to have universities and companies implement workplace vaccinations where possible.
Students, faculty and staff who wish to get vaccinated at the Tohoku University Vaccination Center can apply through a web-based reservation system, which is now accepting new appointments until July 16.
The Tohoku University Vaccination Center was established jointly with Sendai City and Miyagi Prefecture on May 24, and has been conducting general vaccinations for local, elderly residents. As of June 20, about 55,600 people have been vaccinated there.
Tohoku University President Hideo Ohno and other university executives visited the center on Monday as the first students began arriving, and were given a brief tour by center director Hideo Harigae.
Speaking to the media afterwards, President Ohno described the vaccination of students as socially significant. "I hope it will be a step towards restoring some normalcy to their daily life, and they can enjoy activities free of restrictions. I also hope that our campus can once again be a safe and comfortable environment for students to focus on their education and research."
Approximately 12,000 students, faculty and staff have already made appointments, and all slots are believed to be full until the end of June. For now the center will vaccinate 500 university members each day, and raise the number to 600 in July when some are due for their second shots.
To ensure that there is no disruption to the public, the center has added two vaccination rooms, and Tohoku University Hospital has deployed additional medical staff and dentists, who can help administer the vaccines.
"We have been vaccinating the elderly because they are the most vulnerable. But now we must focus on the young people because transmission of the virus tends to be caused by people who have active lives," said Harigae, who is also a vice-director at Tohoku University Hospital. "When young people, like our students, get the virus, their symptoms are usually mild, but they can still transmit the virus to others. So by vaccinating young people as soon as possible, we are also helping to protect the rest of the community."
The university stresses that vaccination is not compulsory and acknowledges that there are compelling reasons - such as certain health conditions - why someone might not wish to be vaccinated. All students, faculty and staff are urged to read the materials provided in order to make an informed decision whether or not to get vaccinated.
The vaccination program for Tohoku University members at the center is expected to be completed by mid-August.