The Japanese government withdrew its recommendation that the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine can be used by girls, due to possible adverse effects such as long-term pain and numbness.
On the contrary, health officials in the Unites States recommended last week that teenage girls should be HPV vaccinated more after a study showed that the vaccine is “highly” effective.
The vaccination in Japan is not suspended, but the use of the vaccine is not promoted by local governments, as instructed by the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare.
“The decision does not mean that the vaccine itself is problematic from the viewpoint of safety,” said Mariko Momoi, who is a vice president of the International University of Health and Welfare in Ōtawara, Tochigi, Japan. “By implementing investigations, we want to offer information that can make the people feel more at ease.”
Merck, manufacturer and seller of one of the vaccines, Gardasil, commented the public decision:
“While direct causal relationship between the vaccines and serious symptoms observed after inoculation has not been established at this time, we fully understand the anxiety felt by many people in Japan. In response to this decision, we will continue to collaborate with all stakeholders, including (the health ministry), to monitor and verify safety data toward resumption of active promotion for HPV vaccination as soon as possible,” according to a company spokesperson.
Both Gardasil, which is a quadrivalent vaccine, and Cervarix (GlaxoSmithKline), which is bivalent, are legal to use in Japan.
Girls will still be able to be vaccinated for free, but from now on they will be informed by healthcare providers that the health ministry does not recommend it.