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Japan’s COVID-19 Vaccination Program

Japan’s COVID-19 Vaccination Program

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As COVID-19 vaccination programs are rolled-out in countries around the world, Japan will also be implementing a phased vaccination schedule from mid-February 2021. The following page provides an overview of program roll-out including:

1 / COVID-19 Vaccination in Japan: Latest News

2 / COVID-19 Update inc. Numbers in Japan

3 / Japan’s COVID-19 Vaccination Program

4 / Stages of Vaccination in Japan

5 / Japan’s COVID-19 Vaccination Passport

6 / Japan COVID-19 Vaccine FAQs

7 / COVID-19 Vaccination Timeline

Please note, that this page is primarily intended for users outside of Japan. We hope it is helpful in planning your future travel to Japan. This page is not intended to be an exhaustive resource for people living in Japan.

1 / COVID-19 VACCINATION IN JAPAN: LATEST NEWS


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As of June 21st 2021, Japan is reporting*:

Total administered vaccinations: 28,887,137

This includes (scroll down for information re: stages of vaccination):

STAGE 1 administered vaccinations: 9,686,290

STAGE 2 administered vaccinations: 19,200,847

STAGE 3 administered vaccinations: some people now eligible

STAGE 4 administered vaccinations: some people now eligible

To compare the progress of Japan’s vaccination programs to countries around the world, please refer to the ourworldindata.org website. For further information about how Japan’s COVID-19 vaccination program will work and is progressing, refer to the information below.

*We update reported numbers every Monday and whenever there’s an important development.

Latest News:

June 21 2021: as of this week, Japan’s COVID-19 vaccination program moves into a new phase with shots now being offered to persons under 65 years of age. Large companies and universities are central to this push with many offering inoculations to employees and their families on-site. At this stage, the push is limited to companies and universities with a large number of employees or students, with 266 venues operating as of yesterday. Employers including Japan Airlines (JAL), All Nippon Airways (ANA), Softbank and Central Japan Railways are participating along with universities including Keio, Kindai and Tohoku. Data shows that only 3.6% of the population has now received two shots however with efforts to speed-up the roll-out it is hoped that all persons that wish to be vaccinated will have received both shots by November.

June 11 2021: in a continued effort to ramp-up vaccinations prior to the Olympic Games – scheduled to take place from July 23 until August 8 2021 – the government has announced that the main vaccination centre in Tokyo will begin providing inoculations for people aged under 65 from tomorrow onward. This revision marks the beginning of Stages 3 and 4 of the vaccination program however does so at a time that relatively few people prioritized under Stage 2 of the program – people aged 65 and over – have received two doses i.e. the latest data shows that just over 20% of people aged 65 and over have had their first shot but only 3% have had both shots. The government has declared that it intends to finish vaccinating everyone who wants to receive the shots by October or November this year. A task that will require more than one million does to be administered each day.

June 9 2021: in an effort to speed-up vaccinations in Japan, the government has announced that workplaces and universities will now be involved in the roll-out and it will soon begin to target younger people. Large workplaces with their own medical staff will be provided doses to begin inoculation while more than half of Tokyo’s 23 wards will start inoculating people in their 20s and 30s by the end of June through universities and workplaces. This group tends to be more socially active as continues to be linked to the spread of COVID-19 in the capital. The latest figures released in Japan show that around 70% of healthcare workers have now been fully vaccinated and more than 20% of people aged 65 and over have had their first shot but only 3% have had both shots. Ten prefectures including Tokyo and Osaka remain under a ‘state of emergency’ with numbers falling however experts are concerned that as people continue to shop and visit entertainment district, the infection rate will soon rise again.

May 31 2021: facing continued criticism regarding the slow roll-out of its vaccination program, the government has announced that persons eligible under Stage 3 of the program – i.e. aged 20 to 64 with underlying health conditions that put them at risk of severe symptoms if they contract COVID-19 – will soon be eligible for inoculation at the same time that Stage 2 i.e. persons aged 65 years and older, are continuing to be vaccinated. This group is though to be around 8.2 million people however precise data does not exist. The announcement comes as Stage 2 continues to be slow, with only a small percentage of the estimated 36 million Japanese aged 65 and over having received two shots and large vaccination centres are being established around the country to speed-up the program.

For history of major announcements and developments, see our ‘COVID-19 Vaccination Timeline’ below.

2 / COVID-19 UPDATE inc. NUMBERS IN JAPAN


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Our ‘COVID-19 Update’ page includes the latest numbers and news of what’s happening in Japan. We update the page every Monday and whenever there’s an important development.

3 / JAPAN’S COVID-19 VACCINATION PROGRAM


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Japan will be using different vaccines having signed contracts for a supply of 314 million does including:

— 144 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine

— 120 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine

— 50 million doses of the Moderna vaccine

The vaccination program in Japan is set to begin in March 2021, starting with healthcare and other critical workers before moving onto persons aged 65 and above and finally, the general public. Japan has a population of around 125 million people. The Pfizer vaccine is likely to be the first approved and used in Japan.

4 / STAGES OF VACCINATION IN JAPAN


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While full details are not yet known, it has been announced that vaccinations will begin in mid-February 2021, starting with:

STAGE 1: front-line healthcare workers and persons required to be in contact with COVID-19 positive people will be prioritised, starting with vaccination of 10,000 healthcare workers participating in safety trials from mid-February before an estimated 3.7 million health care workers are inoculated from March onward.

STAGE 2: persons aged 65 and older – a group estimated to be around 36 million people and considered to be of higher risk if they contract COVID-19 – will be vaccinated from mid-March or early-April onward.

STAGE 3: persons aged under 65 with underlying health conditions will be vaccinated next, as this group is also a higher risk on severe symptoms should they contract COVID-19. People aged 20 to 64 with underlying health conditions are estimated to total around 8.2 million and are expected to begin vaccination in April or later.

STAGE 4: the general public will then be eligible for vaccination with certain groups, such as pregnant women, not eligible due to insufficient information about the effect of the vaccine on them. It has also been suggested that vaccines will only be made available to persons over the age of 16 however full details are not yet available. It is expected that vaccination of the general public will begin sometime from June or later.

5 / JAPAN’S COVID-19 VACCINATION PASSPORT


covid-19-vaccination-passport

Consistent with many countries around the world, Japan has announced its intention to utilise some form of digital vaccination passport in an effort to re-open its international. While the exact details of how this will work and which digital platform Japan will use are not yet confirmed, the government appears committed to rolling-out a smartphone app which travelers can use to satisfy the health requirement and allowing them to travel to Japan. It is hoped that this will facilitate opening of the international border in the near future. For further information, see our ‘Japan’s COVID-19 Vaccination Passport’ page.

6 / JAPAN COVID-19 VACCINE FAQs


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There are lots of questions swirling around about how Japan’s vaccination program will be rolled-out. The answers to some of those questions are known while others are still unclear. These are some of the most common questions:

Which vaccine is Japan using?

Japan is using three different vaccines produced by Moderna and Pfizer (from the United States) and AstraZeneca (from the United Kingdom). Approximately 314 million doses have been procured to cover Japan’s population of around 125 million people. The Pfizer vaccine is likely to be the first approved and used in Japan.

When will vaccination begin and how will it work?

The first inoculations are expected to begin in mid-February 2021, starting with a test group of essential health workers before vaccination of all key health workers in Japan, followed by the elderly, persons with underlying health conditions and eventually the general public. See above for further details.

Who will be vaccinated first?

Essential health workers – which totals a group of around 3.7 million people – will be prioritised before persons aged 65 and over are the first people within the general public to be vaccinated. See above for further details.

Why is Japan starting vaccination later than other countries?

In recent years, Japan has a history of proceeding cautiously when it comes to testing and approving vaccines. In-keeping with that cautious approach, the government is allowing adequate time for necessary testing of candidate vaccines.

Do I need to be vaccinated to travel to Japan?

At this time, entry for most foreign nationals – other than foreign residents and some business travellers – is not possible. As vaccination programs are rolled-out around the world, it has not yet been announced whether proof that you have been vaccinated will become an entry requirement or if priority will be given to those who have been inoculated. We will update this page as further information becomes available.

I am a foreign resident of Japan. Am I eligible for the COVID-19 vaccination?

Yes. The government has announced that foreign residents of Japan will be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccination as long as their residence is registered with a municipality.

7 / COVID-19 VACCINATION TIMELINE


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The following timeline is intended to provide a historical snapshot of Japan’s COVID-19 vaccination program:

June 21 2021: as of this week, Japan’s COVID-19 vaccination program moves into a new phase with shots now being offered to persons under 65 years of age. Large companies and universities are central to this push with many offering inoculations to employees and their families on-site. At this stage, the push is limited to companies and universities with a large number of employees or students, with 266 venues operating as of yesterday. Employers including Japan Airlines (JAL), All Nippon Airways (ANA), Softbank and Central Japan Railways are participating along with universities including Keio, Kindai and Tohoku. Data shows that only 3.6% of the population has now received two shots however with efforts to speed-up the roll-out it is hoped that all persons that wish to be vaccinated will have received both shots by November.

June 11 2021: in a continued effort to ramp-up vaccinations prior to the Olympic Games – scheduled to take place from July 23 until August 8 2021 – the government has announced that the main vaccination centre in Tokyo will begin providing inoculations for people aged under 65 from tomorrow onward. This revision marks the beginning of Stages 3 and 4 of the vaccination program however does so at a time that relatively few people prioritized under Stage 2 of the program – people aged 65 and over – have received two doses.

June 9 2021: in an effort to speed-up vaccinations in Japan, the government has announced that workplaces and universities will now be involved in the roll-out and it will soon begin to target younger people. Large workplaces with their own medical staff will be provided doses to begin inoculation while more than half of Tokyo’s 23 wards will start inoculating people in their 20s and 30s by the end of June through universities and workplaces. This group tends to be more socially active as continues to be linked to the spread of COVID-19 in the capital. The latest figures released in Japan show that around 70% of healthcare workers have now been fully vaccinated and more than 20% of people aged 65 and over have had their first shot but only 3% have had both shots. Ten prefectures including Tokyo and Osaka remain under a ‘state of emergency’ with numbers falling however experts are concerned that as people continue to shop and visit entertainment district, the infection rate will soon rise again.

May 31 2021: facing continued criticism regarding the slow roll-out of its vaccination program, the government has announced that persons eligible under Stage 3 of the program – i.e. aged 20 to 64 with underlying health conditions that put them at risk of severe symptoms if they contract COVID-19 – will soon be eligible for inoculation at the same time that Stage 2 i.e. persons aged 65 years and older, are continuing to be vaccinated. This group is though to be around 8.2 million people however precise data does not exist. The announcement comes as Stage 2 continues to be slow, with only a small percentage of the estimated 36 million Japanese aged 65 and over having received two shots and large vaccination centres are being established around the country to speed-up the program.

May 24 2021: as of today, large-scale vaccination centres are operating in Tokyo and Osaka. Operated by the Self-Defence Forces, it is hoped that the centres will speed-up Japan’s vaccination program which has been criticised for lagging behind many other countries. The centres will use the Moderna vaccine (approved for use in Japan last week) with targets of 10,000 vaccinations per day in Tokyo and 5,000 per day in Osaka, with centres operating 8AM to 8PM daily including weekends and public holidays. The vaccination program is currently at Stage 2 i.e. the vaccination of persons aged 65 and older. At least twenty-eight prefectures are also planning or considering setting-up large-scale vaccination centres including Gunma, Aichi and Miyagi which will open their centres shortly.

May-19 2021: the government has announced that it will set-up a ‘study team’ that will consider the possibility of issuing digital ‘vaccination certificates’. Issued by local municipalities, the certificates would act as verifiable evidence of a person’s vaccination history. This reflects a move in some foreign countries and an expectation that such documents may be required to travel internationally, once borders begin to reopen.

May-10 2021: the Ministry of Health has announced that the first stage of its vaccination program should be complete this week, with all essential medical workers soon to have received both inoculations. The second stage of the program – vaccination of persons aged 65 years and above – is already underway however has been criticised for its slow progress. In response, the government has announced that it will speed-up delivery of vaccine does and is in discussion with local governments about setting-up mass-vaccination centres.

Apr-30 2021: the government has again commented that Japan will introduce some form of “vaccine passport” in the form of a smartphone app that will facilitate movement of people in and out of the country. It is believe digital passport will record evidence of having had a COVID-19 vaccination along with negative test results, potentially allowing persons who have not yet been vaccinated to travel. While nothing concrete has yet been announced, it’s a positive step toward re-opening the international border.

Apr-12 2021: as of today, Japan will begin the second stage of its vaccination program with delivery of the first inoculations to people aged 65 and over. This earliest vaccinations will take place from today with the full roll-out expected from early-May onward. This group accounts for a significant proportion of the community, an estimated 36 million people. It follows on from the first stage which saw healthcare and other critical workers vaccinated.

Mar-15 2021: trials of a proposed ‘Common Pass’ have taken place at Tokyo’s Haneda Airport. Five participants underwent COVID-19/PCR tests which were transmitted to a laboratory with all five participants receiving negative test results to their phones within two hours. Those results are then displayed as a ‘universal digital certificate’ which can then be used to satisfy entry requirements of a travelers’ destination country upon check-in in their country of origin.

Feb-22 2021: the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare (MHLW) has announced the first vaccinations in Japan. A total of 11,934 persons have been vaccinated as of 5PM on February 22nd 2021.

Feb-03 2021: Japan’s Prime Minister, Suga Yoshihide, has announced that the first vaccinations in Japan will begin in mid-February, ahead of the expected start date at the end of February. The vaccination program will begin with trial innoculation of 10,000 healthcare workers before all essential healthcare workers – an estimated 3.7 million people – become the first large group to receive the vaccine.