TOKYO - Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Friday Japan would aim to secure COVID-19 vaccinations for all citizens by the first half of 2021.
Abe announced at a government meeting a set of measures against the novel coronavirus, which causes the COVID-19 respiratory illness, including increasing the country's virus testing capacity ahead of the flu season.
The measures will include greatly expanding the country's testing capacity to conduct mass testing on health care providers and nursing home staff, who are seeing a rise in new infections.
The government will review its guidelines on recommending hospitalization of COVID-19 patients, prioritizing those with severe symptoms, and asking those with mild or no symptoms to self-isolate at home or in designated lodging facilities.
It wants to ensure that enough hospital beds are secured for severe cases in anticipation of a scenario in which Japan is also hit by an influenza outbreak in the winter.
Furthermore, there are plans to create a system that will allow residents to easily access the vaccines at their place of residence, alongside implementing relief measures in the event of side effects or other health problems caused by the vaccines.
The government is looking to cover the cost of compensation that vaccine manufacturers may face if health issues occur.
Vaccine purchases will be financed by reserve funds from the budget of the current fiscal year to March 2021.