Japan’s parliament on Wednesday, December 2 approved the bill to provide free COVID-19 vaccination to its 126 million people. The bill received the approval of the upper house of the parliament after being passed in the powerful lower house. The bill will make the local authorities of Japan responsible for managing the immunisations across prefectures.
The passage of the bill comes at a time when Japan is suffering from a second wave of the disease. The bill includes a provision that would require citizens to make efforts towards getting vaccinated, but it won’t come into effect until the safety and efficacy of the vaccine are proven. The bill would also allow the government to compensate private companies in case health problems occur from vaccination resulting in financial losses.
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has vowed to put all efforts into securing vaccines as soon as they are approved by the regulators. According to the Japan Times, the country has reportedly secured 120 million doses of potential COVID-19 vaccine from British firm AstraZeneca, while another 60 and 25 million doses from American giants Pfizer and Moderna respectively. However, not everyone in Japan is enthusiastic about getting vaccinated as a survey from Ipsos showed that only 69 percent of Japanese residents are willing to get a vaccine, which is lower than the global average of 73 percent.