Japan enacted a law on Wednesday to cover the cost of vaccination against COVID-19 for residents.
Amid rising hopes for the early arrival of vaccines, following recent progress and a resurgence of infections in Japan, the country’s House of Councillors unanimously passed a bill to revise the current vaccination law.
The revision came as Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has promised to secure COVID-19 vaccines for all residents in Japan in the first half of next year.
Japan has made deals with U.S. pharmaceutical giant Pfizer Inc., U.S. firm Moderna Inc. and Britain’s AstraZeneca Plc to acquire sufficient vaccines for 145 million people, following successful development of the vaccines.
The government has set aside a budget of 671.4 billion yen (about 6.4 billion U.S. dollars) for the purpose of acquiring the vaccines, according to local media.
The revised bill does not clarify whether the law will allow foreign residents in Japan to get free vaccination.
Although the law strongly suggests people to be inoculated, the government will allow individuals to refuse if the vaccines have not been proved sufficiently safe by the time of approval.