With the H1N1 pandemic now in full swing in Japan, swine flu vaccinations also started at the end of last month, initially targeting health care workers. But what about us foreigners? The Tokyo Metropolitan Health Department and the Suginami Ward Public Health Center have provided the following information:
As a rule, registered foreign residents can get vaccinated just like the Japanese. The first groups to receive the jab are those at high risk, such as pregnant women and hospitalized people with chronic illnesses (as well as all children with chronic illnesses). From December, adults with conditions such as asthma, heart disease and diabetes will be eligible for the vaccine. If you fall into this category, take documentation of your condition to your local Public Health Center (hokenjo) to get information on clinics offering the vaccine, then contact one of them to make an appointment. The vaccine costs about ¥3,600 for the first shot, and ¥2,550 for the second (which at the time of writing was recommended for certain groups, though this may change as clinical trials continue).
Children are next in line: healthy kids with no underlying diseases in their 3rd year of elementary school or younger will start getting the vaccination from December, with older children (4th year of elementary through high school) receiving theirs from January or February. Caretakers or parents of small children and people aged 65 and older will also start getting the shot from mid-January. At this point, Japan doesn’t have enough stocks of the vaccine to cover the entire population, so healthy adults must wait until all other groups have been accounted for.
Should you get sick before that, the Tokyo Metropolitan Health and Medical Information Center (Himawari) offers advice in several languages on where to go and what to do. Tel: 03-5285-8181.