Vaccinations in Japan

Today I just wanted to talk about the COVID-19 vaccination process in Japan and my feelings about it.

Being from Spain, I’m familiar with how the vaccination process has been in Europe (it is the EU that purchased and distributed the vaccines, rather than individual countries), as well as, of course, Japan, where I will get my vaccine.

While Europe stumbled a bit out of the gate due to some disputes with AstraZeneca, the vaccination process was fast after that and by early summer a majority of the population was vaccinated. They are also exporting over half of the vaccines produced in the EU — all vaccines administered in Japan come from Europe, for example.

The speed at which vaccines have been administered is due to not only availability, but also planning. In Spain, for instance, each citizen got a phone call from the national health service when it was their turn, and were told what vaccination center to go to. Essential workers got theirs in December, people over 90 in January, and so on. This way the vaccines available were rapidly and orderly administered.

While Japan got its vaccines a bit later than other developed countries, supply has not been the issue so far. It’s true that Japan has a slow-moving bureaucratic process and has only approved two of the vaccines, but still, there are plenty of vaccines to go around, and if all the red tape is to increase safety, then so be it.

What has considerably slowed the process down, however, is the central government’s lack of involvement with administering the vaccines. While in other countries there is a national strategy, the Japanese government decided instead to leave vaccine administration to companies and local governments.

This has resulted in a slower and more uneven rollout. For instance, Shinjuku has decided to vaccinate young people first, while most other places are prioritizing older people. The city of Yokohama is behind schedule compared to other cities, meaning I will be getting my vaccine later than most other people my age. And people lucky enough to work for companies that decided to purchase vaccines were vaccinated much earlier than other people of similar ages.

All in all, not only is Japan behind other developed nations, but where you live and work also determine when you’ll get your vaccine, making the process seem… not too egalitarian. Thankfully, the rollout is picking up speed, so hopefully we will all be vaccinated soon, and please get your vaccine as soon as you can.

Hi, I’m Sergio.
I’m from Spain, lived in the UK for seven years and came to Japan in 2012.
I majored in journalism in London and have been teaching English in Tokyo.
I like traveling, cycling, photography, movies, and spending time with friends.
I wrote articles about life in Japan as a foreigner and anything that I might find interesting.
My email is ” “, by all means contact me about anything!


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