TOYONAKA, Osaka – The city of Toyonaka in western Japan is providing support in 10 languages to help some 6,000 foreign residents of the municipality get vaccinated against COVID-19.
In addition to sending information in Japanese, English, Chinese, Korean, Thai, Indonesian, Spanish, Filipino, Vietnamese and Nepalese to all foreign citizens with vaccination vouchers, he placed interpreters at a designated vaccination location. The measurement of Osaka Prefecture City, which has a population of approximately 400,000, is considered advanced compared to other municipalities in Japan.
A vaccination center for foreign residents has been set up at the Toyonaka International Center, a municipal facility to support foreign residents. Commenting on the support measures, a city representative said: “It is important that everyone is convinced and can get vaccinated with peace of mind.
One Sunday in late August, interpreters with labels such as “Thai” and “Filipino” were seen helping residents complete medical questionnaires at the center, located across from Hankyu Toyonaka Station. A foreign resident who received support in Korean said with a relieved expression, “It was difficult to make an appointment for an individual vaccination and I was wondering what to do. About 80 people, including elderly residents of the area, were vaccinated at the center that day.
In principle, the inhabitants of the city make their reservations with their family doctor or the city’s website and are vaccinated individually in medical establishments. However, this method presents an obstacle for those who cannot speak Japanese, as they have to relay information about their health, for example whether or not they have any underlying health problems, are taking medication or have had any reactions. severe vaccinations in the past.
The Toyonaka municipal government and the Toyonaka Multicultural Symbiosis Association, which serves as the basis for international exchanges, have compiled the support measures following discussions that began in December 2020.
At the end of June, basic information on vaccines and how to book was mailed to all foreign citizens in all 10 languages. The international center was added as a vaccination location and reservations were accepted online in all 10 languages. Language support staff were assigned after confirming whether people needed interpreters. Inoculations began in early July.
The local government and the association have cooperated in international exchange projects in the past, and they have the know-how to disseminate information in multiple languages and secure staff, so it is likely that this enabled them to respond. slowly. An official from the city’s human rights policy department stressed, “I don’t think the health center has the capacity to handle everything. Foreign aid departments must act.
Yayoi Yamamoto, director of human rights and cultural policy in the city government, commented, “For a city like Toyonaka where foreigners live in urban areas, this can be a model case. Meanwhile, Takashi Yamanoue, the association’s general secretary, said, “We want to hear about your concerns and problems and provide the necessary support. ”
(Japanese original by Nanami Hidaka, Osaka Regional News Department)