For those from other countries, Japan may seem far behind in the race to rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine. However, with the resent approval of additional vaccine providers, the Japanese government is quickly catching up in order to prepare for the summer Olympics. Here is what you need to know about getting the vaccine in Japan and the current timeline for when you can expect to get vaccinated.

Please not that the below information if subject to change but was accurate as of May 24, 2021.

Which type of COVID-19 vaccine is Japan using? 

The vaccine currently in use in Japan is a mRNA vaccine provided by Pfizer. The Japanese government has also recently approved usage of vaccines provided by Moderna and AstraZeneca, and will begin rollout of distribution soon. 

Does the COVID-19 vaccine in Japan require one or two shots? 

The Pfizer vaccine requires two shots taken 21 days apart from.

When will COVID-19 vaccines be available for each age group in Japan? 

Health workers are currently receiving the vaccine in Japan and, as of May, the Japanese government has initiated nationwide vaccination programs for senior citizens over the age of 65 and those with preexisting medical conditions. 

As of May 21, details of the vaccination schedule for residents who do not fall into these above categories has not yet been released. However, this app assists Japanese residents in estimating when they might be able to receive the vaccine.

What is the COVID-19 vaccination progress for Japan so far?

As of May 19, 2021, over 1.5 million shots have been administered to seniors over the age of 65 years and almost 6 million shots for health workers.

The Japanese government is aiming to vaccinate all over-65s by the end of June.

Where can you get the COVID-19 vaccine? 

Eligibles can be vaccinated at local hospitals and clinics. To search for facilities for vaccination in your local area, please visit this website (Japanese only). Currently, the Self-Defense Forces have also set up mass vaccination sites for residents in the Greater Tokyo Area and Greater Osaka Area. 

As for Tokyo, the mass vaccination sites will start operating from May 24, and reservations start from May 17. For more information regarding mass vaccination sites in Tokyo, please visit here (Japanese only).

How much will the COVID-19 vaccine cost? 

The vaccine will be free of cost for all eligible.

Are foreigners in Japan eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine? 

All foreign residents in Japan are eligible for vaccination. 

What are the steps for getting the COVID-19 vaccine in Japan?

  1. A vaccination ticket will be mailed to you from your local municipality office. 
  2. Reserve an appointment online or by phone.
  3. Fill out the Pre-vaccination Screening Questionnaire (available in multiple languages).
  4. Bring the vaccination ticket, screening questionnaire and your legal identification document (passport, residence card, driving license, etc.) to the vaccination facility.
  5. Wear something that allows you easily roll your sleeves up (e.g. short sleeve T-shirt).

Can foreigners get vaccinated at their country’s embassy in Tokyo? 

Certain countries might provide vaccines for their citizens living in Japan and working for the embassy. For example, the British government is extending care to some of its citizens abroad but not covering every British citizen. For additional and up-to-date information, please consult individual embassy websites.

Who is unable to get the COVID-19 vaccine? 

People who have conditions as listed below are not eligible for vaccination:

  • Fever
  • Acute disease
  • A history of severe allergic reaction to vaccine such as anaphylaxis 

* Please consult your physician if you are unsure of potential medical conditionals that may disqualify you for vaccination.

Who is prioritized for vaccination?

  1. Healthcare workers
  2. Individuals over the age of 65
  3. Patients who have pre-existing conditions as listed below:
    • Chronic respiratory disease
    • Chronic heart disease (including high blood pressure)
    • Chronic kidney disease
    • Chronic liver disease (cirrhosis, etc.)
    • Diabetes patients receiving insulin treatment or suffering other diseases along with diabetes
    • Blood diseases (not including iron deficiency anemia)
    • Diseases that impair the the immune system (including malignant tumors under treatment)
    • Receiving treatment that reduces the function of the immune system, such as steroids
    • Neurological or neuromuscular diseases associated with abnormalities in immunity
    • Decline of physical condition due to neurological or neuromuscular diseases (e.g., breathing disorders)
    • Chromosomal abnormalities
    • Severe mental and physical disabilities (combination of severe physical disabilities and severe mental disabilities)
    • Sleep apnea
    • Severe mental illness (hospitalized for treatment, or diagnosed by certified medical organizations) or intellectual disability (holding the Rehabilitation Certificate)
    • BMI (Body Mass Index) of 30 or higher (Calculate your BMI here)

How will eligibles prove that they have received the COVID-19 vaccine? 

As of May 21, Japan plans to introduce “vaccine passports” for fully vaccinated international travelers. The passport is likely to be designed as a smartphone app with QR codes which can be scanned at airports. 

EU diplomats have also recommended member states to open their borders to fully vaccinated foreign travelers.


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