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[Event Report] “The Global Expert Meeting on the Way Forward for a Life Course Approach to Immunization and Vaccination Policy” (December 18, 2020)

[Event Report] “The Global Expert Meeting on the Way Forward for a Life Course Approach to Immunization and Vaccination Policy” (December 18, 2020)

******** The full report published April 6, 2021.
For more information, please refer to the PDF.


In terms of the impact on health, society, economies, and education, the World Health Organization (WHO) has stated that vaccination is the most cost-effective public health intervention. However, among people who do not or cannot receive vaccinations, Vaccine-Preventable Diseases (VPDs) infect 1.5 million people annually worldwide. In Japan, there have been cases in which the public took an overly sensitive stance towards vaccinations due to concerns over side effects or when the Government had to reconsider certain vaccination policies as the result of media reports and lawsuits. There are also cases of vaccine hesitancy, which occurs when people refrain from seeking vaccinations or from having their children vaccinated. As a result, some members of the public are not being provided with routine vaccinations on schedule. There are also recent reports of people being infected with VPDs in Japan due to reasons such as changes in the immunization system.

One recent development in immunization and vaccination policy at international organizations and in advanced countries is increased emphasis on vaccinations over the entire life course while taking technological development and growing diversity in lifestyle patterns into account. A life-course approach to immunization would not only mean providing vaccinations in early childhood, but also during adolescence, middle age, and late adulthood. At the same time, to reduce vaccine hesitancy, scientific evidence on the effectiveness, safety, and necessity of vaccinations is being publicized in an easy-to-understand manner and various efforts to introduce systems to provide catch-up vaccinations to unvaccinated generations are underway. Examining the current state of Japan’s immunization system and initiatives to build awareness in the government and among healthcare providers, however, we can conclude that efforts for the adoption of a life-course approach are insufficient.

As of late November 2020, Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) has killed approximately 1.2 million people and is causing significant disruptions to the global society and the world economy. To bring the pandemic to an end, expectations are high towards the establishment of effective treatment methods and the development of a safe and effective vaccine. Furthermore, Japan’s increase in seasonal influenza vaccine demand among groups such as elderly people or people with underlying conditions suggests that the COVID-19 pandemic has made the public more cautious towards infectious diseases.

As society’s interest in immunization and vaccination policy increases, it is important to deepen public understanding of how vaccinating every member of the public can benefit individuals and society and to make more people see the value of immunization throughout the entire life course and across all generations. In Japan, policies that will promote immunization over the life course and enable unvaccinated generations to receive catch-up vaccinations are highly anticipated.

This global expert meeting was held with the aim of featured bringing and bridging together external experts and HGPI’s advisory board and special advisors that include representatives from industry, government, academia, and civil society to discuss vaccination challenges and opportunities. It is our expectation that this global expert meeting will contribute to advancing discussions on the future of immunization and vaccination policy as well as promote discussions with the public.

■Discussion Points at the Roundtable:

  • Discussion Point 1:
    • Communicating with vaccine recipients
  • Discussion Point 2:
    • Educating healthcare professionals
  • Discussion Point 3:
    • Access to vaccinations (Expanding vaccination opportunities for those without access to healthcare facilities and providing public subsidies for vaccinations)
  • Discussion Point 4:
    • The scientific evaluation of vaccines
  • Discussion Point 5:
    • The ideal structure of vaccine policy in Japan (Establishing an adult vaccination program and involving academia in the policy cycle)
  • Discussion Point 6:
    • Improving vaccine research and development in Japan
  • Discussion Point 7:
    • Handling COVID-19 vaccines


Opening Remarks

  • Kiyoshi Kurokawa (Chairman, HGPI)

Special Lecture “Reconsideration of Immunization and Vaccination Policy in the context of current COVID-19 pandemic”

  • Keizo Takemi (Member, House of Councillors/WHO Goodwill Ambassador for UHC)

Keynote Address “Global Trend and Change in Vaccinations Policy and Future Projections”

  • Huong Thi Giang Tran (Director, Division of Programmes for Disease Control, World Health Organization Western Pacific Office (WPRO))

Keynote Address “The importance of a Life Course Approach and Global Trends”

  • Lois Privor-Dumm (Director, Adult Vaccines, International Vaccine Access Center, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health)

Roundtable Discussion


  • Kyoko Ama (Former Representative, Ippan Shadan Hojin Shiro Shoni Iryo Mamoro Kodomo-tachi no Kai)
  • Hidenori Arai (President, National Center for Geriatrics and Gerontology; Vice President, The Japan Geriatrics Society)
  • Satoshi Iwata (Department of Infectious Diseases, National Cancer Center Hospital; Chairman, Expert Council on Promotion of Vaccination)
  • Mugen Ujiie (Director of Travel Clinic, Director of Immunization Support Center, Disease Control and Prevention Center, Center Hospital of the National Center for Global Health and Medicine (NCGM))
  • Kazunori Oishi (Chief, Toyama Institute of Health)
  • Nobuhiko Okabe (Director General, Kawasaki City Institute for Public Health)
  • Leon Ochiai (Head, Public Relations Division, Responsible for Vaccine, Sanofi K.K.)
  • Akihiko Saitoh (Professor, Department of Pediatrics, Graduate School of Medical and Dental Sciences, Niigata University)
  • Akinori Sugaya (Head Physician, Sugaya Children’s Clinic; Director, KNOW VPD Protect Our Children)
  • Yoshihiro Takashima (Coordinator, Vaccine-Preventable Diseases and Immunization (VDI), Division of Programmes for Disease Control, WPRO)
  • Keiko Tanaka-Taya (Chief, Division of Immunization Program, Infectious Disease Surveillance Center, National Institute of Infectious Diseases)
  • Kuniko Nakayama (Director, My family Clinic Gamagori)
  • Yoshie Hirose (Manager, Policy Intelligence Department, Janssen Pharmaceutical K.K.)
  • Shinji Matsumoto (Chair, Vaccines Working Team, EFPIA Japan)
  • Isao Miyairi (Medical Director, Department of Infectious Diseases, National Center for Child Health and Development)
  • Akinari Moriya (Airport Quarantine Medical Supervisor, Central Japan (Chubu) International Airport Quarantine Station, Nagoya Quarantine Station)


  • Joji Sugawara (Senior Associate, HGPI)

Closing Remarks

  • Noriko Furuya (Member, House of Representatives; Acting Chairperson, Association for the Promotion of Improved Public Health (Parliamentary Group for Vaccines and Prevention))


■Related contents held as part of the project (chronological order)

– November 10, 2020 [Event Report] The Third Advisory Board Meeting for the Immunization and Vaccination Policy Promotion Project, “Data Collection and Application to Appropriately Evaluate Vaccination Outcomes”

– September 15, 2020 [Event Report] The Second Advisory Board Meeting for the Immunization and Vaccination Policy Promotion Project, “Charting the Way Forward on Immunization Policy: International Trends and the Situation in Japan” 

– September 7, 2020 [Recommendations] Proposal on a Global Procurement System for Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Vaccines

– August 7, 2020 [Event Report] The First Advisory Board Meeting for the Immunization and Vaccination Policy Promotion Project, “Charting the Way Forward on Immunization Policy: International Trends and the Situation in Japan”

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