Japan to provide free Covid-19 vaccines to their citizens

Wednesday, 02 December 2020 - 17:36

A bill to provide coronavirus vaccinations free of charge with the central government covering the cost was passed in the Diet, offering a key plan to stem the virus as Japan struggles with its worst-yet wave of infections.

Wednesday’s passage in the Upper House following approval in the more powerful Lower House will bring the law into effect. It also makes local governments responsible for administering the immunizations, according to the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare.

The law includes a provision obliging citizens in principle to make efforts to get vaccinated against the coronavirus. But the provision will not go into effect unless the effectiveness and safety of vaccines are fully confirmed.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has vowed to secure enough doses of vaccine for the “people of the country” by the first half of next year. The revised law does not clarify whether this will include foreign residents, but health ministry officials have said they expect them to be covered based on other vaccinations offered for free.

Wednesday’s bill also permits the government to compensate private companies for any losses caused by health problems stemming from the vaccinations.

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