Japan will give free coronavirus vaccines to all of its residents under a bill passed Wednesday, as the nation battles record numbers of daily cases.
The bill, which says the government will cover all vaccine costs for Japan’s 126 million residents, was approved by the upper house of parliament, having cleared the powerful lower house.
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.
Aiming to secure COVID-19 vaccines for all citizens by the end of June 2021, Japan has contracted with Moderna Inc. to provide vaccines, and has basic agreements with AstraZeneca PLC and Pfizer Inc., according to the health ministry.
Japan has seen a total death toll of just over 2,000 people from the virus since the beginning of the pandemic, compared with approximately 1,500 deaths per day in the United States.