The ‘ghost’ of vaccines haunts the Japanese

Avatar of Nick John By Nick John Dec22,2023 #Japanese #vaccines
The 'ghost' of vaccines haunts the Japanese 2
The 'ghost' of vaccines haunts the Japanese 2

Niiya is worried about side effects and believes that the epidemic prevention measures being taken are enough to protect herself.

The Japanese government has ordered 290 million doses of Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Moderna vaccines, enough to vaccinate the entire population of 126 million people.

A nurse holds a vial labeled Covid-19 vaccine.

But the government’s eagerness to end the pandemic, repair the economy and pave the way for the Olympics contrasts with cautious public sentiment.

Japan is not a land of anti-vaxxers or conspiracy theorists, but its people are often very cautious about foreign pharmaceuticals.

Vaccinations have been mandatory in Japan since World War II, when the US military tried to prevent epidemics from raging at a time when many Japanese people were poor and malnourished.

The program saved many lives, but problems arose, including a faulty diphtheria vaccine that killed 68 children.

The Japanese government’s confidence was shaken in 1993 when the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine led to cases of aseptic meningitis and required significant compensation from the Health Ministry.

`The ministry has become hesitant about supporting vaccines since then,` said Kentaro Iwata, a professor of infectious diseases at Kobe University.

Japan abandoned its national HPV vaccination program for teenage girls in 2013, after reported side effects included muscle pain, sleep disturbances and sensitivity to light and sound.

Although childhood vaccination rates in Japan remain high, as in other high-income countries, HPV vaccination rates have dropped from more than 70% to less than 1%, resulting in more than 5,000 deaths from

The challenge for Japan, as well as many other countries, is to gain public confidence as the vaccine campaign takes place globally.

An October study by Ipsos found that 69% of Japanese people `agree` or `somewhat agree` that they will take a Covid-19 vaccine when it becomes available.

A December survey of 1,000 people by Japan Trend Research found that less than 11% wanted to get vaccinated immediately, compared with nearly 27% who did not want to get vaccinated.

That is the view of 19-year-old student Rina Kawakami.

Japan often requires vaccines and drugs to be tested domestically rather than accepting test results abroad, because of concerns that ethnicity could affect effectiveness.

`Then they discovered that the dosage of the drug used in Japan was a bit too high for the Japanese people,` said Masayuki Miyasaka, professor emeritus of immunology at Osaka University.

Pfizer and AstraZeneca have both conducted small-scale clinical trials of Covid-19 vaccines in Japan, but large-scale late-stage trials cannot be launched due to the relatively low nCoV infection rate in the country.

However, the government is likely to speed up the approval process to achieve the goal of vaccinating the entire population before the middle of next year.

`This is a dilemma, between the need to intervene as soon as possible, and the need for more time to convince people that the vaccine is safe and effective,` Iwata said.

Japan’s parliament amended its vaccination law this month to provide free Covid-19 vaccines to people.

However, the problem remains that the Japanese government does not receive high trust from the public, especially regarding their anti-Covid-19 policy.

Meanwhile, the International Olympic Committee will strongly encourage athletes to get vaccinated before competing at the Olympics.

Public trust could increase if the vaccine shows good results in the West.

Nakano believes that the Olympics can still take place in that context, thanks to rapid and frequent testing of athletes and spectators.

But a normal Olympics?

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