Increasing adult vaccination uptake rates in Japan

As Japan is still facing the consequences of a winter spike in COVID-19 infections, a new programme of work will seek to design innovative interventions to increase the uptake of vaccinations for people aged 65 and over in Japan.

Despite grappling with a flu epidemic in 2019, Japan is still struggling to significantly raise vaccination uptake rates among people aged 65 and over. Pneumonia is the third most common cause of death in Japan yet there are relatively low vaccination rates among adults.

The coronavirus pandemic has put the widespread need for immunisation at all ages into sharp focus and is shining a light on the need to drive forward the global agenda on preventing ill health. Japan has suffered 400,000 cases and 6000 deaths from COVID-19 and has seen a significant spike in winter cases.

The total size of the population aged 65 and above in Japan is around 35 million and as such there are a significant number of people potentially vulnerable to death and serious illness as a result of the disease.

“Moving the needle, Improving uptake of adult vaccination in Japan”, an innovative ethnographic initiative led by the International Longevity Centre – UK (ILC) and Stripe Partners, will identify, develop and refine two implementation-ready interventions designed to increase the uptake of vaccinations for people aged 65 and over in Japan.

David Sinclair, ILC UK Director said: “As Japan invites the world to their place for the Olympics, the coronavirus pandemic has put the widespread need for adult immunisation into sharp focus. Yet uptake of existing adult vaccines against the flu and pneumococcal disease remains relatively low. This exciting new project will seek to develop new ideas for increasing the uptake of adult immunisation in Japan”.

Simon Roberts, Partner at Stripe Partners added: “Designing health interventions that are effective depends on deep understanding not just of individual health attitudes and practice, but the wider cultural and healthcare landscape. Our ethnographic and co-design approach is designed to deliver new interventions that will deliver real impact”

Over the next year Stripe Partners and ILC will publish new research on healthy ageing in Japan alongside the organisation of an innovative ethnographic research and design ‘studios’ which will identify specific cultural and systemic barriers and drivers to immunisation. We will work with older Japanese adults and local partners to design culturally appropriate interventions which address these needs and barriers.


Patrick Swain, ILC-UK

Simon Roberts, Stripe Partners,


Find out more about Moving the needle: Improving uptake of adult vaccination in Japan here.

A blog on “Can the Olympics prompt a change in Japanese attitudes to vaccination?” is available here.

This project has been made possibly by a grant from Pfizer Japan Inc.


Stripe Partners is a London-based consultancy that works with global businesses and organisation on innovation using a human sciences approach. Stripe Partners are experts in the use of ethnographic research techniques to drive product and service development. Their clients include: Facebook, Intel, Procter and Gamble, NHS, Renault-Nissan, Spotify.

The International Longevity Centre – UK (ILC) is the UK’s specialist think tank on the impact of longevity on society, and what happens next. ILC  was established in 1997 as one of the members of the International Longevity Centre Global Alliance, an international network on longevity. We work with central government, local government, the private sector, and professional and academic associations in the UK and across the world to provoke conversations and pioneer solutions for a society where everyone can thrive, regardless of age.