Japan parliament passed a bill on Wednesday, 2 December, to make vaccination against the coronavirus free for residents, obligating the government to cover all costs.
According to France24, the bill’s passage comes two weeks after Japan’s prime minister said the country was on maximum alert over the virus and as medics warn, hospitals are on the brink of collapse.
Under the legislation passed unanimously by the upper chamber of the Japanese parliament, the government will also cover all expenses related to the possible adverse effects and compensate pharmaceutical companies for possible lawsuits.
The revised law provides for voluntary immunization, the Japanese government is now set to focus on the vaccine storage system and an explanatory campaign for local authorities.
Japan is expected to start vaccination against Covid-19 in the first half of next year, the government plans to administer vaccines to elderly people, medical workers and vulnerable groups on a priority basis.
Japan has seen a comparatively small Covid-19 outbreak overall with around 2,100 deaths and 150,000 cases and has not imposed the strict lockdowns unlike other countries around the world.
But it is now facing a third wave of the disease, reporting record numbers of daily infections nationwide in recent weeks.
The government has urged residents to avoid non-essential outings and asked businesses serving alcohol to shut early, although there is no enforcement mechanism for these recommendations.
The government has also decided to allow individual regions to opt-out of a controversial domestic tourism campaign.