Japan approves free COVID-19 vaccine for residents

Tokyo, Dec 2 (efe-epa).- Japan’s approved a law Wednesday to cover the full costs of vaccinating residents against COVID-19, at a time of growing expectation about the candidates while infections increase.

The Upper House unanimously approved the bill to review the current regulations on vaccination, months after the Japanese government began efforts to ensure vaccines for the entire population, some 126 million people.

Japan reached an agreement with the American pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and Moderna and with the British AstraZeneca, responsible for the three most promising candidates, to receive sufficient doses when they develop it successfully.

The government has allocated a budget of 671,400 million yen ($6,380 million) for this.

The law, to which local agency Kyodo had access, does not clarify whether non-Japanese residents of the archipelago will be covered, but Health Ministry officials said they hope this will be the case, as with other vaccines that are administered free of charge in the country.

Although the legal text strongly recommends vaccination, people will be allowed to refuse to receive it if the efficacy and safety are not sufficiently demonstrated at the time its administration is approved.

In the event the vaccine causes serious side effects, the government will cover costs of the relevant medical expenses, compensations and pensions, instead of the providers, as anticipated in August.

Parliament also approved Wednesday to extend through February regulations that allow the government to require quarantine of those who test positive for COVID-19 upon arrival in the country, a measure initially scheduled to expire at the end of 2020. EFE-EPA


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