Japan to Introduce Routine COVID-19 Vaccinations for Elderly

The Yomiuri Shimbun
A man receives a vaccine for the XBB variant on Wednesday in Minato Ward, Tokyo.

TOKYO (Jiji Press) — A special group of the health ministry Wednesday approved a plan to change COVID-19 vaccinations into routine inoculations for people aged 65 or older in fiscal 2024.

Under the plan, a routine inoculation against the novel coronavirus will be conducted once a year between autumn and winter. Part of the expense will be borne by those receiving the vaccine shots in principle.

At present, COVID-19 vaccinations are treated as temporary inoculations under the immunization law, conducted urgently to prevent the disease from spreading. The costs are fully covered with public funds.

From the year starting next April, people aged 65 or older and those aged 60 to 64 with severe underlying diseases will be eligible for routine COVID-19 vaccinations.

Fully 30% of the costs will be covered with tax grants to local governments from the state. But vaccine recipients may have to pay some of the expense.

Meanwhile, COVID-19 vaccinations for those under 65 will be voluntary inoculations whose costs are paid entirely by vaccine recipients.