The coronavirus vaccine has been available in Japan since early 2021, with medical workers and senior citizens being the first to receive their vaccinations. Now, rollouts have extended to the majority of the general population, meaning you can get yours now to protect yourself against the spread of COVID-19.
Coronavirus Vaccine Procedures
To receive the coronavirus vaccine in Japan, you must first receive your vaccine ticket from your local city or municipality. This ticket is provided to all residents, regardless of nationality (meaning foreigners are to be vaccinated according to the same schedule as Japanese citizens, as long as you are a resident of Japan) and will be mailed to your registered address.
When you receive your vaccine ticket, you will also receive instructions on how to book your vaccination appointments. These bookings can be done online or by phone and are typically offered in the area in which you live. Depending on the vaccination site you choose, you may be required to sign up for two slots at once (for the two shots required to be considered fully vaccinated), or you may be instructed to sign up for the second slot at the vaccination site during your first appointment.
Where to Get the Vaccine
The simplest way to find vaccination locations is through the information provided with your vaccine ticket. However, if you are struggling to find a suitable time slot or location that fits your schedule, there are some other options for where to get the vaccine.
First, check with your employer or school to see if they have a vaccination program available. For some in Japan, getting vaccinated through their workplace or university has been easier than waiting to receive a booking through their city. These programs have been so successful, Japan suspended applications for corporate vaccine drives in late June after the maximum distribution capacity was reached. However, if your company or school signed up before the deadline, you may still be able to secure a vaccination there. In some cases, companies are also vaccinating family members of employees as well.
Another option is to look for clinics and mass vaccination sites not listed in the resources provided by your local municipality. Some residents have been successful in securing their vaccine appointments simply by calling numerous clinics in their area.
In some cases, you can also book through clinics and vaccination sites outside of your local area. Many locations will only require you to have your ticket, regardless of whether or not you’re located in the same city or ward as the site.
Two helpful websites for finding these vaccination sites are Find a Doc, a community-run database, and the official Vaccine Navi website run by the government (both are available in English).
What to Expect
Once you’ve made your booking and are ready for your coronavirus vaccine, there are a few things to keep in mind to help you prepare and know what’s in store:
With your vaccination ticket, the COVID-19 vaccine is free in Japan for all residents.
What to Bring
Be sure to bring your vaccine ticket, your completed questionnaire form (mailed to you along with your ticket; this must be completed in Japanese, but for translations, click here), an official form of identification (such as your Japanese residence card, driver’s license, or your passport), and wear a shirt with short sleeves or sleeves that can be comfortably rolled up.
Available Vaccine Brands
Currently, the two most common vaccine brands available in Japan are Moderna and Pfizer. Recently, the government also decided to roll out the AstraZeneca vaccine in areas under a state of emergency, such as Tokyo area prefectures. In most cases, the brand provided depends on the type of site or clinic you visit, and you are not given a choice of which vaccine brand you prefer.
Because these brands all require two doses for maximum effectiveness, be prepared to make time for a second appointment. The doses should be three weeks apart for Pfizer and four weeks apart for Moderna. For AstraZeneca, the second dose should be received within 4-12 weeks after the first.
Side Effects and Reactions
Expect some arm soreness after the injection, as well as other flu-like symptoms. Those receiving the vaccine will be asked to remain at the vaccination facility for 15-30 minutes after receiving the shot to monitor side effects and possible allergic reactions. For more on side effects, click here.
Coronavirus Vaccine Shortages in Japan
Currently, there is a shortage of available vaccines for residents in Japan, casting anxiety and frustration as many areas are seeing record-breaking numbers of COVID-19 cases. If you are still struggling to reserve your vaccination, continue checking the clinic and vaccination site resources above, as more vaccines are secured in Japan. The government plans to secure 220 million doses by the end of September and is planning to have everyone who wants to receive the vaccine fully vaccinated by the end of November.
More Information on the Coronavirus Vaccine in Japan
As the pandemic continues to spread in Japan, getting vaccinated is one of the most effective ways to protect yourself and others. To find out the latest coronavirus vaccine information, or to find out more details on vaccination in Japan, visit the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare website here.
Disclaimer: The information on this page is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult your doctor for personalized advice and information regarding the vaccine.