Country’s surprising approach to unvaxxed
As an increasing number of countries ramp up pressure on citizens who remain unvaccinated, one nation has an entirely different approach.
As an increasing number of countries ramp up pressure on citizens who continue to remain unvaccinated against coronavirus, Japan has taken the opposite approach.
Just over 78 per cent of Japan’s 126 million people are fully vaccinated, and the government has strongly encouraged all citizens to get one of the three jabs available – Pfizer, Moderna or AstraZeneca.
But unlike the heavy-handed approach of many other nations, the Japanese government says getting vaccinated is a personal choice – and warns the public not to “discriminate” against those who choose not to.
“Although we encourage all citizens to receive the Covid-19 vaccination, it is not compulsory or mandatory,” a notice on the Ministry of Health website reads.
“Vaccination will be given only with the consent of the person to be vaccinated after the information provided. Please get vaccinated of your own decision, understanding both the effectiveness in preventing infectious diseases and the risk of side effects.
“No vaccination will be given without consent. Please do not force anyone in your workplace or those who around you to be vaccinated, and do not discriminate against those who have not been vaccinated.”
A similar message appears on the website of Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.
“Vaccines will never be administered without the recipient’s consent,” it says.
“We urge the public never to coerce vaccinations at the workplace or upon others around them, and never to treat those who have not received the vaccine in a discriminatory manner.”
Japan has seen a sharp decline in Covid-19 cases since August, leaving experts mystified.
Last week, researchers from the Tokyo‘s Riken Institute suggested a possible genetic “X-factor” may explain the country’s success.
Last month, Singapore – one of the world’s most vaccinated countries – announced that the government would no longer cover the medical expenses of people who remain unvaccinated by choice and become sick with Covid-19.
Singapore’s Health Ministry said unvaccinated people made up a “sizeable majority” of those in intensive care and that they “disproportionately contribute to the strain on our healthcare resources”.
In Australia, the NSW government is reportedly considering a similar move to bill unvaccinated patients for their hospital expenses.
Other countries have gone further, with Austria becoming the first nation in Europe to announce a blanket mandatory vaccination policy taking effect from February next year.
Austrians who continue to refuse jabs or boosters face enormous fines and possible jail time.
Germany has flagged it will likely follow suit, with Tourism Minister Thomas Bareiss saying earlier this month mandatory vaccinations were inevitable.
“For me it is politically no longer justifiable that entire industries, retailers, restaurants, clubs, bars and the entire cinema, cultural and event scene live in a state of crisis prescribed by the state for 20 months and are faced with great existential fears, while others … take the freedom not to vaccinate,” he said.
More than 90 per cent of Australians aged over 16 are now fully vaccinated.
Speaking to reporters this week, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Australia did not have “one of the highest vaccination rates in the world by accident”.
“I don’t believe it’s been achieved by mandates and controls, I think it’s been largely achieved by the goodwill, good faith and the common sense of Australian people,” he said.
“You know my view on mandates. Mandates are essential for health workers, and for aged care workers, for people who are directly working with vulnerable people.
“That is the only area at a Commonwealth level where there has been unanimous agreement amongst all the chief health officers of this country about where those mandates should be in place. Outside of that, states have taken their own decisions on their own public health orders to put those mandates in place. They cannot be overridden by the Commonwealth.”
But the PM said Australia was “going into a new phase”.
“That new phase is one of a culture of responsibility rather than a culture of control and a culture of mandates, of letting Australians live with this virus responsibly,” he said.