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Flu Vaccines in Japan


The Flu season here in Japan is coming to an end as spring is slowly arriving. There are still a few students out with the Flu, but that`s a major improvement from the 10-20 percent of the students that were out due to the flu a few weeks back.  That percentage was pretty consistent from elementary schools to Middle schools in my area. I thought that was an alarmingly high number, but the reaction was more of “仕方がない” (it can’t be helped).  From there the students that have the Flu are to stay at home and the students remaining are to wear medical masks and should be extra vigilant when washing their hands. You also can`t forget about “うがい,” the act of gargling tea or water.
I had not thought much of it recently, but it came up again in conversation and an interesting but basic question was asked.
“Does Japan have the flu shot?”
Yes, Japan has and uses the Flu shot, but it`s apparently a bit expensive and not covered by insurance most of the time.  This was a bit of a surprise as the health insurance here in Japan is usually pretty solid.
The Flu shot is free or cheap to the elderly, but can be 4,000 yen (~$35 USD) or more for anyone else. There seems to be the mentality of it`s too expensive to do get done yearly, but if you get the Flu and go to the hospital for treatment, it`s covered…