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Take a shot: Osaka pachinko parlor becomes COVID vaccine site

Coronavirus vaccines are administered at a parlor where pachinko and slot machines are lined up, in Osaka's Kita Ward on Sept. 14, 2021. (Mainichi/Naohiro Yamada)=Click/tap photo for more images.

OSAKA -- A pachinko parlor in Osaka's Kita Ward was used as a COVID-19 vaccination site for a total of some 1,500 people including the parlor's employees, their family members and local residents on Sept. 13 and 14.

    The shots were administered under Japan's workplace inoculation program, using vaccines produced by U.S. pharmaceutical firm Moderna Inc.

    Vaccinations at the Freedom Tenroku pachinko parlor, located near the Tenjinbashisuji shopping street in Osaka, said to be the longest shopping promenade in Japan, were realized after parlor operator Avance Co. suggested the scheme to the nearby Kano General Hospital.

    Freedom Tenroku, which has 1,000 pachinko and slot machines, temporarily closed its business for the scheme. People sat on every other chair, separated by partitions, in front of the game machines to receive shots from the hospital's doctors and nurses.

    Using a pachinko parlor as a vaccination site had some merits. The facility is thoroughly ventilated by air conditioning units, and swivel chairs made it easy for people to expose the arm in which they wanted to receive the jab to doctors or nurses. People were able to press a call button on the machine to let nurses or doctors know if they felt unwell.

    Shigeaki Kano, chairperson at the medical corporation operating Kano General Hospital, commented, "There is no better environment than this (for the vaccinations)."

    One 34-year-old male office worker who received a shot has apparently been a pachinko fan for more than 10 years. He said with a smile, "Besides receiving a vaccine shot, I've also become eager to have a shot at playing pachinko."

    (Japanese original by Naohiro Yamada, Osaka Photo Department)

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