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Elderly Japanese residents of Britain impressed by efficient vaccine rollout

27 Comments
By Hirotaka Sunada

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Such a tragedy it took the UK govt a year, and a death rate higher than the US, to take any effective Covid action. For 126, 272 people and counting, its far, far too late.

-16 ( +9 / -25 )

This is what happens when you cut the EU apron strings. Efficiency and no red tape. Thank brexit. Now next up is Frexit and then we can put this awful EU experiment behind us where it belongs.

-11 ( +9 / -20 )

@ Tokyo Joe - just about every EU nation has done better all through the pandemic than the UK. Germany, with 9 international borders, has HALF the death rate.

Only one word - disaster.

1 ( +15 / -14 )

The UK's vaccine rollout is thanks to the professionalism of the NHS, not central government or Brexit.

13 ( +20 / -7 )

The UK's vaccine rollout is thanks to the professionalism of the NHS, not central government or Brexit.

Among the disaster of the British government in managing the impact of the virus, it is great to see something done properly.

They are now vaccinating 800,000 a day - pretty remarkable in a country of 65m.

And it does show how effective the NHS is.

13 ( +14 / -1 )

Such a tragedy it took the UK govt a year, and a death rate higher than the US, to take any effective Covid action

You Aussies dealt with it much better than we did. Our slow response was criminal.

However, the NHS deserves great credit for the speed of the vaccination program. Give credit where it’s due. These Japanese people are not so bitter.

16 ( +17 / -1 )

TheDalaiLamasBifocalsToday 08:29 am JST

The UK's vaccine rollout is thanks to the professionalism of the NHS, not central government or Brexit.

Yes. The abysmally slow response of the incompetent and corrupt Tory government is what caused the catastrophe. The NHS workers are national heroes, yet the Tories won't even give them a proper pay rise this year.

7 ( +12 / -5 )

I was phoned at home on Friday, offered an appointment time on Saturday morning and arrived on foot at my local GP surgery a few minutes early. There was no queue and I was ushered in. For the AZ you get asked the basic questions, vaccinated in your upper arm, handed a side-effects leaflet and a card with your vaccination recorded on it, and leave. I was in and out of my local GP surgery within 60 seconds.

You may be asked to wait for 10 minutes to see if you have an allergic reaction with the Pfizer jab.

The roll-out speed is possible because of the NHS infrastructure. We all have an NHS number (distinct from our National Insurance number). Most of us are registered with a local GP (general practitioner). These are doctors paid by the state. We go to them for any medical issue that doesn't require immediate, emergency treatment. We can alo just turn up at A&E or phone for an ambulance. Ambulances, A&E care and outpatient appointments are also free.

Your GP co-ordinates your care. They will make an out-patient referral to a specialist in a hospital for you, if you need it, package you off to A&E or give you a prescription for medication (subsidised or free). They also take in urine samples and take blood samples. There is sometimes a fee for travel jabs or certificates, but not always. It's a good model for anyone wanting to adopt it.

In the UK we have had 30 weeks of lockdown, in total - a lot more than Japan, and have a population about half the size. The higher mortality rate in the UK (+7% for 2020, Japan's went down) is likely to be due to not wearing masks and not behaving sensibly.

Even with the NHS the UK roll-out has required suitable physical space. Exhibition halls, entertainment venues and the like have been closed under lockdown, and are now being repurposed as vaccination centres. More of these are now opening and some GP surgeries are vaccinating too, sometimes only at the weekend when they would normally be closed. Volunteers help move people through and do the administration.

The daily injection numbers are climbing as more sites come on stream. On Saturday the UK managed 752,308 first doses and 91,977 second doses. The larger your nation, the bigger those daily numbers should be. The UK vaccinated healthcare staff first, and then rolled it out in bands by age, from the oldest first. That was to maximise the reduction of deaths. Once everyone over 50 has been offered it, it will become available more generally. The use of age was regarded as the easiest and fastest way to do it. Couriers and teachers may need it more than hikikomori, but that would slow the roll-out.

The locations, staff, admin and systems can and should be prepared in advance of vaccine arrivals.

Some people cannot have the vaccine for medical reasons, or may need to have it in hospital for extra safety.

Nobody is forced to have it here. The uptake appears to be high. Most Britons see vaccination as a requirement for going on holiday at some point in the future, which it will almost certainly be. Having a jab before a holiday is not unusual. Some employers may be able to require that prospective staff are vaccinated (if they can be) before employing them. Also, trust in the NHS is high. We are used to them fixing us up.

Side-effects are a lottery. The most common one for Pfizer is a very sore arm for a day or two. AZ seems a little less pleasant. My friends have had a mix of fever, headaches, shivers etc, usually passing within 24 hours. I felt fine for 8 hours, then had shivers, then my temp went up to a tad under 40 degrees and stayed there. It was uncomfortable and a bit scarey. I went to bed and was a lot better in the morning. Even knowing that, I would still have had it, and will have the second. Some folk have no side-effects at all. You might get lucky.

The increased number of allergic responses in Japan may stem from cultural differences. In the UK we are open about our allergies, especially food ones, and allergy testing is quite common here. Japan seems to have a culture of eating what you are told from school onwards and tolerating personal discomforts rather than complaining about them or making a fuss. If it helps, I'm allergic to loads of things but was OK. But do be honest when asked.

The next development may have to be a vaccination for children (the current ones seems to focus on adults). Without that, there is a danger that the virus will survive, circulate and mutate in kids. Hopefully, by vaccinating as many adults as possible, we will achieve herd immunity. But we all have to do this. Viruses do not respect national boundaries, as much as politicians pretend they do, by sealing borders. We all need to be jabbed.

Anti-vaxxers are not a problem, at least in the UK. They are vocal, but a small minority. The desire for a holiday and peer/family pressure is much more potent. Anti-vaxxers are not a justification for censorship of the internet or of Web 2.0.

As soon as you get offered a jab, go for it. We are all losing too much to Covid. It's time to fight back.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

On Saturday the UK managed 752,308 first doses and 91,977 second doses. 

Excellent numbers. As others have siad, all credit where it is due, to the NHS workers.

3 ( +8 / -5 )

Britain is allowed to get something right, just occasionally.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

A government where the most protected person in the country, Bojo, caught a virus that research suggests, may cause long term cognitive dysfunction.

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

Addition. Those will specific pre-existing conditions, known to make them vulnerable, were also prioritised, as were care homes, for obvious reasons.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I would say very typically British. Slow to react at first, and a little dysfunctional for a short while, but once the British get it together, the British really go for it.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

My only hope is that stories like this will speed things up here.

The health minister needs to be fired. Clearly, that's where the bottleneck is.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

I would say very typically British. Slow to react at first, and a little dysfunctional for a short while

You make it sound like a charming old secretary making a typo.

It was disastrous negligence which resulted in horrific numbers of people dead.

1 ( +6 / -5 )

My mom's vaccine in Hawaii took about 10 minutes no wait start to finish. Her town has population of 80,000, 5 vaccine places around the city to go. Less people giving vaccine more places to go for a vaccine. She said 10 staff working at her place. She could choose Phizer, Moderna, Johnson&Johnson.

I'm not surprised Japan will have 50-100 staff for 1 vaccine place.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

I would like to know why these ex-pats don’t think this NHS efficiency is possible in Japan. They say it won’t happen, but not why.

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

Every relative and friend in the UK who is currently eligible for the vaccine has had their first dose, a couple have also had their second dose. Some had the Pfizer, most had the Astra Zeneca and none had any side effects apart from a sore arm for a couple of days. None of the people I know decided not to have the vaccine, a few had the virus previously. After months of lockdown people in the UK are desperate for some kind of normality, hence the high vaccine uptake, I think countries that have not been subject to strict lockdowns are more complacent about vaccination and the long term economic and social effects of Covid. These vaccines are the light at the end of the tunnel, governments and individuals should be running towards it.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

At the serious outbreak of the pandemic the Johnson government failed to take immediate action by shutting down the entire country for a month. Closed borders. Lockdown. That would have greatly reduced the affect of the pandemic.

Making good progress with vaccinations. 30 million with first jab.

But the UK will be hit again by the third wave.

Violent demonstrations against the lockdowns and mask wearing. Professional anarchists using the situation to ignite their own course. Attacking a police station and burning numerous police vehicles.

A large number will refuse the vaccinations.

But the Japanese in the UK, which number more than 60,000 compared with about 15,000 Brits here. Surprised that they could travel to the UK and also have the vaccinations unlike foreigners living in Japan.

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

Britain's done a great job with the vaccine rollout. It's actually paying much more per dose than the EU and other buyers, but getting hold of the viruses first has been a win. Since this is the UK, the risk is that the increased spend then means welfare cuts at a later date that will kill people in other ways. Or, as we are seeing, a pitiful payrise for the NHS, which leads to staff leaving and a poorer health service, which will also kill people. Britain has lots of bean counters and, as is frequently mentioned, no "magic money tree" to pay for things. It's not like Japan where 31 trillion yen was spent on the Tohoku recovery without anyone questioning where the money was to come from.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

The NHS hospitals are state owned, which is key. Just as the US's vaccine program accelerated once Biden put the Federal government solidly in charge, with 450 vaccination centers quickly set up.

In Japan, by contrast, hospitals are most privately owned, making the patchwork system very inefficient and vulnerable. Even small numbers of patients threatened to swamp the system. Japan needs to socialize/nationalize its healthcare system now.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

JeffLee

The NHS hospitals are state owned, which is key. Just as the US's vaccine program accelerated once Biden put the Federal government solidly in charge, with 450 vaccination centers quickly set up.

NHS hospitals are now mostly trusts.

Agree that private Japanese hospitals need to up their game.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

borschtToday  10:50 am JST

I would like to know why these ex-pats don’t think this NHS efficiency is possible in Japan. They say it won’t happen, but not why.

It's slow because of the bureaucracy. It simply cannot adapt to quickly changing situations.

I say "quickly", but they've had plenty of time to set up and yet here we are.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

The NHS hospitals are state owned, which is key. 

NHS hospitals are now mostly trusts.

I think both these factors helped in the roll out. I can only go by local experience in a fairly rural area. The national nature of the organization means there is a database of people which makes it fairly easy to inform people. (My wife and I both received letters about 2-3 days prior to our appointments.) The local trust set up allows different areas to manage the local arrangements in ways that suit their circumstances. In our area, the 65+ group got their vaccinations at the local health centre (Pfizer which required a 15-minute wait following vaccination) . While that was taking place, a local sports centre was being prepared to handle the under 65s. (In this place, they are giving the AZ vaccine which requires no waiting time - basically in and out.)

One interesting detail I heard was that when people didn't turn up at the 65+ location, to avoid wasting vaccines, they would call the local police station and have them send round police officers to get vaccinated. A nice bit of flexible management.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I would say very typically British. Slow to react at first, and a little dysfunctional for a short while

You make it sound like a charming old secretary making a typo.

It is what it is.

It was disastrous negligence which resulted in horrific numbers of people dead.

Negligence? Today is one year since the first lockdown, and half the population is now vaccinated.

Pleased to see that the Japanese ex-pats are impressed. Most British ex-pats in Japan are just armchair spectators.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

It was disastrous negligence which resulted in horrific numbers of people dead.

Negligence? Today is one year since the first lockdown, and half the population is now vaccinated.

Yes, negligence.

Negligence in being slow of the mark when the warning signs were clearly there from Italy in particular.

The highest death toll in Europe.

You can spin the Tory line all you like, but over 125,000 deaths can’t just be dismissed with talk of vaccines. It’s incredible, and a bit sickening, that you just glossed over this.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Even Johnson admitted he should have done things differently a year ago. Relatives of those who died are demanding a public inquiry into the government’s actions. They, and the whole of the UK, deserve answers. The decision not to protect the elderly and vulnerable in care homes was criminal.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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