Many people across the world seemed to collectively breathe a sigh of relief once vaccines for COVID passed clinical trials. There was the hope that this was the ticket needed to return to a semblance of normalcy, and potentially for travel to resume again.
Naturally though, in a pandemic, the logistical component of vaccinating large groups of people presents some difficulties. There needs to be enough space to support significant numbers of people coming out to be inoculated while still maintaining a level of distance, plus other services like places to park and a power source (the COVID vaccine requires refrigeration).
That's where AEON comes in. The retail giant has almost 300 malls nationwide, and importantly, they have the space required for a large-scale effort like this. Many of their premises have already been used in the past as evacuation centers during natural disasters, and there are already relationships built between some mall locations and local governments.
One of the mall locations that has officially signed on to be part of the large-scale vaccination program is AEON Mall Zama, located just outside of Tokyo in Kanagawa Prefecture. The vaccination program there is scheduled to commence sometime in April.
While it may take some time to see the majority of the population vaccinated, it's an encouraging sign that government officials and privately-owned businesses are working together on the roll out. If there is one thing that the pandemic has shown in no uncertain terms, it's that a team effort is required to beat it.
For more details on the planned proposal, visit the NHK News website here (in Japanese).