Dec 23. 2018Medical

How Can I Vaccinate My Children in Japan?

Every country has vaccines that are given to developing children. A common worry for parents is whether or not those same immunizations will be available in Japan. Not only do the specific types of immunizations vary from country to country, but the age at which they can receive those immunizations can be different as well. Though it is certainly possible for children to be vaccinated in Japan, they are not always available free of charge. In this article we would like to touch on the vaccination situation in Japan.


The State of Vaccinations in Japan

In Japan, there are two types of vaccinations. "Routine Immunizations" are mandated by municipal law, while "Voluntary Immunizations" are optional and are requested by an applicant. Routine immunizations can be received if you are registered as a resident of the municipality where you live in Japan. The cost of the vaccination varies depending on the municipality, but it is generally the case that the cost will be low, or in some cases even free. Should you not be registered to a municipality, it is still possible to receive immunizations, though in this case the costs would be paid entirely by you.

If your child received immunizations before you arrived in Japan it is beneficial to bring a copy of the medical records, so that Japanese medical institutions will know which vaccine the antibodies are contained in. If you are not able to provide any records, there is no need to worry. Doctors are typically able to extrapolate which vaccines you have based on the country you received them in, and if necessary can do antibody tests to decide which vaccines are necessary.


Voluntary Immunizations Can Be Received Alongside Routine Immunizations

The decision whether or not to vaccinate a child with a voluntary immunization is left up to the child's parent or guardian. Hearing the phrase "voluntary immunization", one might think that these types of vaccines are non-essential, but it is not necessarily the case that a voluntary immunization is medically unimportant. Voluntary immunizations can protect against diseases that can cause severe lingering pain and side effects.

Because insurance is not applicable towards voluntary vaccines, the applicant is typically responsible for the cost of these immunizations. However, depending on the municipality, there is a system called the "Public Expenditure Subsidy System", which may reduce your costs. You can check with your municipality to see if this might apply in your situation. Voluntary vaccinations include influenza, mumps, and rotavirus, among others. The Japan Pediatrician Medical Association has issued a general vaccination schedule. Please reference it as needed.

Reference: JPS Vaccine Schedule 20170115 ENGLISH.pdf

Though it may be difficult to endure so many vaccinations, there are so many diseases that can be prevented with proper immunization. Should you have concerns about vaccinations, please contact your local municipality.