By Norma Erickson
Will Japan be the first country to call a halt to one of the largest human health experiments in the history of mankind?
HPV vaccines have been approved for use in Japan since early 2010. However, the government did not officially recommend their administration until April of 2013 when four new vaccines were added to the recommended schedule: Gardasil, Cervarix, a pneumococcal vaccine and a vaccine for Japanese encephalitis.
As with any vaccine, adverse events were reported after each of the newly recommended shots. Upon analysis of these reports, Japan discovered the rate of adverse reactions reported after HPV vaccines were between 1.75 and 3.64 times the number of reports after the other two vaccines approved at the same time. (Cervarix-245.1/million; Gardasil-155.7/million; Pneumococcal-89.1/million; Japanese encephalitis-67.4/million)
When these safety concerns were brought to light by the citizens of Japan, government health officials immediately rescinded their previous recommendation for the administration of both Gardasil and Cervarix pending the outcome of investigations into the cause of the adverse events.
Whether Japan stops the use of HPV vaccines in their country or not remains to be seen. Japan’s health authorities publicly demonstrated their commitment to the safety of their citizens by acting quickly and decisively.
One has to wonder why this is not a world-wide phenomenon. International health authorities need to ask themselves: what is more important – vaccine compliance or vaccine safety?
Whatever the answer, public health authorities need to be able to justify their response to the medical consumers who pay their salaries.