[SaneVax: Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare is being forced to examine both sides of the vaccination issue. On one hand, they recently withdrew the government recommendation for the use of HPV vaccines, Gardasil and Cervarix, pending an investigation into the unusually high number of reported side effects. On the other hand, they are faced with a current epidemic of over 10,000 cases of rubella, German measles. The SaneVax team would like to thank Japanese health authorities for acting promptly and responsibly in both instances.]
Editorial: More information needed to help individuals decide on vaccinations
By The Asahi Shimbun, July 2013
Two separate topics concerning vaccination to prevent infectious diseases are in the news.
An epidemic of rubella, also known as German measles, has broken out in Japan, with the number of cases exceeding 10,000 and still rising. The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare has issued warnings and is urging people to receive a vaccination.
The other topic concerns cervical cancer. In April, a cervical cancer vaccine was added to the ministry’s regular mass vaccination program. But the ministry on June 14 decided to withdraw its recommendation for the vaccine due to concerns about possible side effects.
Different vaccines have different target groups. And their degrees of urgency also vary. In deciding whether specific vaccinations should be carried out, it is necessary to weigh the benefits against the side effects that occur at a certain rate.
But many people still don’t have accurate knowledge and information about vaccines. The government should make greater efforts to better inform the public.
It is advisable for people who have not developed immunity to rubella to receive vaccinations against the disease. Concerning the cervical cancer vaccine, the decision can wait until the results of the health ministry’s research into the possible side effects come out.