National Organizations and Vaccines in Japan
Vaccinations in Japan come in two forms, routine vaccinations such as Japanese Encephalitis which are government sponsored and voluntary vaccinations such as Rabies which are not government sponsored. Decisions concerning vaccinations for children and adults in Japan rest with the National Infectious Diseases Surveillance Centre and the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare.
Types of vaccines in Japan
In Japan, there are two types of vaccines; routine and voluntary. Routine vaccinations are free of charge and legally mandated under the Preventative Vaccinations Act. The following vaccinations are a select number of many vaccines classified as routine: HPV (Human Papilloma Virus), HIB (Haemophilus influenza type B), Streptococcus pneumoniae (13-valent conjugate), BCG, Varicella and Japanese Encephalitis.
Voluntary vaccinations are not free and the cost varies depending upon the vaccination itself. Most commonly one's health insurance company will reimburse the costs of this type of vaccination. The following vaccinations are a select number of many vaccines classified as routine: Rotavirus, Hepatitis A, Tetanus toxoid, Meningococcus, Yellow Fever and Rabies.
Some vaccinations are part routine, part voluntary. For example, within the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccination, measles and rubella are routine vaccinations, however mumps is a voluntary vaccination. Furthermore, most Hepatitis B vaccinations (HBV) are routine. However, the vaccine required to prevent mother-to-child Hepatitis B transmission is a voluntary vaccination.
Both the National Epidemiological Surveillance of Vaccine-Preventable Diseases (NESVPD) and the National Health Sciences Council on Immunization which is part of the National Infectious Diseases Surveillance Center and the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare are the agencies responsible for making vaccine decisions for both children and adults in Japan. The National Institute of Infectious Disease provides a schedule for vaccination based upon age. For example, Japanese Encephalitis has two stages; the first stage is administered between 6 months old and 7.5 years of age, while the second stage is administered between 9 years old and 20 years old.
Both the Immunization Law and the Preventative Vaccinations Act make routine vaccinations free of charge in Japan. For routine vaccinations, coupons from city health centers are posted to your house to use in local pediatric clinics and hospitals.
In the case of voluntary (non-government sponsored) vaccines, health insurance companies will reimburse the costs of such vaccines. There is a non-profit organization (NPO) called 'Japan Healthcare Info' which can answer questions regarding reimbursement options. This is one of the most renowned NPOs in Japan and received a government grant in 2010.
In Japan, vaccines are either free of charge (otherwise termed 'routine') or incur a cost (otherwise termed 'voluntary'). The decisions regarding which vaccines are routine or voluntary are made by the National Infectious Diseases Surveillance Center and the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare. The costs of voluntary vaccines will be covered by the individual's health insurance company.