Rakuten’s employee vaccination program is officially underway.
On June 21, Rakuten ― together with Rakuten Medical ― kicked off large-scale vaccination operations at Rakuten’s Crimson House headquarters in Futako-Tamagawa, Tokyo. The program, which currently has capacity for around 1,000 daily vaccinations, is targeted to increase to 5,000 per day going forward. Operations will also roll out to Rakuten’s regional offices, with the aim of enabling some 60,000 willing employees, family members and partners to be vaccinated against COVID-19 in the coming months.
“We can’t be confined by conventional frameworks…The national government, local government, private sector and academia need to work together as one to tackle this issue.”Mickey Mikitani, Chairman and CEO, Rakuten Group
To make the most of Japan’s available medical resources, Rakuten’s ambitious vaccination operations model places a strong focus on efficiency. Through strategic use of partitions, medical professionals are able to double the capacity of each vaccination booth, reducing the number of medical staff required on site while also cutting down waiting time.
Meanwhile, teleconferencing systems have been implemented to allow vaccine recipients to undergo remote pre-examinations, eliminating the need for doctors to travel to numerous physical vaccination centers and enabling them to utilize their time in the most efficient way possible.
An evolution of the “Kobe Model”
Rakuten’s streamlined operation is an evolution of another program launched in May. In Kobe ― the hometown of Rakuten’s J.League soccer team Vissel Kobe ― Rakuten partnered with the local government, several universities and other industry partners to run a first-of-its-kind collaborative vaccination operation.
Through the Noevir Stadium Kobe mass vaccination center, workplace operations and collaborations with external partners, Rakuten aims to increase total daily vaccination capacity to over 30,000.
Rakuten worked with the Kobe government to secure supplies and set up the necessary systems, while Vissel Kobe provided its home ground ― Noevir Stadium ― as well as team support and medical staff to administer the vaccines. A number of universities and other partners provided further medical support and expertise to help meet the project’s ambitious targets. For Japan, it was an unprecedented collaboration that brought together private industry, academia and government.
Rakuten CEO Mickey Mikitani has been vocal about the need for collaboration in boosting Japan’s vaccination capacity to achieve herd immunity in a timely manner.
“We can’t be confined by conventional frameworks,” he commented. “The national government, local government, private sector and academia need to work together as one to tackle this issue.”
The success of the Kobe Model may pave the way for similar programs across the country from other companies and academic institutions. The Japanese government went on to officially launch its “Workplace Vaccination Initiative,” with a significant number of major Japanese companies and universities announcing their own programs in the weeks following, and vaccination rates are accelerating nationwide.
A community effort
After initially focusing on the country’s elderly population, the Japanese government has since turned its attention to inoculating its younger population to achieve herd immunity as quickly as possible. The government is now aiming to finish inoculating its population by the fall.
While Rakuten aims to provide vaccinations for employees, family and partners in the coming weeks, the vaccination team is also working with local governments to consider the possibility of providing free vaccinations to members of the communities where Rakuten operates its many offices around Japan. Through the Noevir Stadium Kobe mass vaccination center, workplace operations and collaborations with external partners, Rakuten aims to increase total daily vaccination capacity to over 30,000.
After its success in Kobe, many of Rakuten’s industry partners ― such as those in the tourism sector ― have requested guidance on how to effectively run their own vaccination programs. In response, Rakuten is sharing a set of its own manuals and operation guidelines to assist around 30 governmental, corporate and tourism organizations across Japan, in the hope of boosting the country’s vaccination capacity even further.
With companies like Rakuten throwing their full weight behind vaccination programs and forming valuable community collaborations, this goal may well be within reach.