Tag: banned vaccines

Does Japan have the Lowest Infant Mortality Rate Following a Ban on Mandatory Vaccinations?

Vaccines don’t affect infant mortality rates as much as you would expect, because there are many other things that kill infants besides vaccine-preventable diseases. Things like birth defects, prematurity, injuries and complications during pregnancy.

Unfortunately, that gives anti-vaccine folks lots of opportunities to misuse statistics about infant mortality rates.

Does Japan have the Lowest Infant Mortality Rate Following a Ban on Mandatory Vaccinations?

The latest propaganda about vaccines and infant mortality rates relates to Japan.

“It may come as no surprise to many that the Japanese Government banned a number of vaccines that are currently mandatory in the United States and has strict regulations in place for other Big Pharma drugs and vaccines in general.”

Jay Greenberg on Anti-Vaccine Japan Has World’s Lowest Child Death Rate, Highest Life Expectancy

Most folks will understand why this is simply propaganda.

Japan never banned any vaccines.

The 2016 routine and voluntary immunization schedule in Japan.
The 2016 routine (Hib, Prevnar, hepB, DTaP, IPV, BCG, MR, Varicella, Japanese Encephalitis, DT, and HPV) and voluntary (mumps, rotavirus, hepA, meningococcal) immunization schedule in Japan.

Japan is not anti-vaccine. Although their immunization schedule is certainly a lot more complicated than ours, they give many of the same vaccines as every other developed country.

“Following a record number of children developing adverse reactions, including meningitis, loss of limbs, and even sudden death, the Japanese government banned the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine from its vaccination program, despite facing serious opposition from Big Pharma.”

Was the MMR vaccine banned in Japan?

The MMR vaccine was introduced in Japan in 1989, and four years later, the government withdrew its recommendation for the vaccine.

Why? Reports of aseptic meningitis. This was likely due to the Urabe strain of the mumps component in their MMR vaccine, which was not used in the United States.

“The data up to now have revealed low rates of aseptic meningitis and no cases of virologically proven meningitis following the use of Jeryl–Lynn and RIT 4385 strains.”

WHO on Safety of mumps vaccine strains

They didn’t ban the vaccine or vaccination though.

They returned to giving children separate measles, rubella, and mumps (optional) vaccines. Tragically, because many kids didn’t get vaccinated against mumps, the rate of aseptic meningitis from people who actually got mumps was 25 times higher than the rate from the MMR vaccine!

When comparing risks vs benefits, it clearly favored getting vaccinated.

“Due directly to these gaps in ‘herd’ immunization resulting from politicized transitions in vaccination policy by the government, there were outbreaks of rubella with 17,050 cases reported between the years of 2012 and 2014, and 45 cases of congenital rubella syndrome reported to the National Epidemiological Surveillance of Infectious Diseases from week 1, 2012 to week 40, 2014.”

Yusuke Tanaka on History repeats itself in Japan: Failure to learn from rubella epidemic leads to failure to provide the HPV vaccine

The switch over also lead to outbreaks of rubella and increased cases of congenital rubella syndrome.

That’s no surprise to those who remember what happened in 1975, when routine pertussis vaccinations were halted in Japan following the deaths of two children. That eventually lead to epidemic cases of whooping cough in the country and at least 41 deaths in children (in 1979) before the vaccine was restarted.

Unfortunately, once they moved to DTaP vaccines, they started to see an increase in allergic reactions after kids got their MMR vaccine. Why? Their version of the DTaP vaccine contained poorly hydrolyzed bovine gelatin, which likely sensitized infants, who then developed an allergic reaction after getting an MMR vaccine with gelatin. While gelatin was removed from their DTaP vaccines, these extra side effects likely scared some folks in Japan.

Japan’s Vaccine Problem

Japan has more vaccine-preventable diseases than many other industrial countries.

Is it because Japan is anti-vaccine?

Of course not.

By impulsively halting and withdrawing vaccines, the Japanese government has done a good job of scaring folks though. They have also been very slow to introduce new vaccines, although they are catching up, as hepatitis, B, rotavirus, Hib, pneumococcal, meningococcal, HPV, and the chicken pox vaccine are all now available in Japan.

Have there been any benefits?

Nope.

They might have lower infant mortality rates, but that has nothing to do with vaccines.

There is no correlation between the number of vaccines that a country gives and their infant mortality rate.

If infant mortality rates are linked to vaccines, how do you explain Finland?
If infant mortality rates are linked to vaccines, how do you explain Finland?

Just look at the immunization schedules in Finland, Portugal, and other countries.

What about autism?

Rates of autism have increased in Japan, just as they have in other countries. So much for the idea that the MMR vaccine is associated with autism, right?

It should be obvious now that if anti-vaccine folks did any research at all, they wouldn’t use Japan as an example when they talk about vaccines.

With higher rates of vaccine-preventable disease and deaths from vaccine-preventable diseases, especially right after they impulsively halt a vaccine, Japan’s vaccine history simply demonstrates that vaccines work and that they are still very necessary.

One thing is true though. Japan’s infant mortality rate has been dropping, but then so has the infant mortality rate in almost all other countries, including the United States, which is at record low levels.

It certainly isn’t true that Japan’s infant mortality rate started to drop following a ban on mandatory vaccinations. How do we know that? Like many other countries, Japan has never had mandatory vaccinations. And not surprisingly, their infant mortality rate has continued to drop as they have added more vaccines and improved their immunization rates.

More on Vaccines and Infant Mortality Rates

Did Sweden Ban Mandatory Vaccination?

Have you heard the “news” that Sweden banned mandatory vaccination in their country?

Is that true?

Did Sweden Ban Mandatory Vaccination?

Like most other anti-vaccine myths, this one isn’t true.

Sweden did not ban mandatory vaccination.

“…vaccination coverage is still high and stable, that the diseases covered by the programs are under control…”

Riksdag Social Committee report 2016/17: SoU7

In March 2017, the Riksdag, or Swedish parliament, did vote against a proposal that called for mandatory vaccination. This came as other countries in Europe are seeing lower rates of immunization, rising rates of vaccine-preventable disease, and calls for vaccine mandates. In fact, France and Italy recently implemented vaccine mandates.

“The general vaccination program has a good coverage, and most children are protected against measles and polio, for example. There are, however, skepticism about vaccinations, both the vaccinations included in the basic program and others. In our view, however, it is of societal interest that the vaccination program is implemented in its entirety, and many of the myths and incorrect data circulating about the vaccination program need to be treated and pinned. We therefore consider that the government should provide the appropriate authority with the task of designing an information campaign on the benefits and necessity of the childhood vaccination program.”

Riksdag Social Committee report 2016/17: SoU7

Although the Swedish parliament voted against a motion that would have started a mandatory vaccination plan, there was nothing to ban. Sweden has never had a mandatory vaccination.

The Riksdag passed a motion to add the rotavirus vaccine to the immunization schedule in Sweden.
The Riksdag did pass a motion to add the rotavirus vaccine to the immunization schedule in Sweden.

It is also clear that they see the problem that anti-vax groups are causing in their country and are working to combat them.

That will hopefully keep them from needing a mandatory vaccination program.

What to Know About the Myth of Sweden Banning Mandatory Vaccination

Sweden, with good immunization levels and low rates of vaccine-preventable disease, did not ban mandatory vaccination.

More on the Myth of Sweden Banning Mandatory Vaccination

Can Vaccines Cause Multiple Sclerosis?

Multiple Sclerosis is thought to be an autoimmune disease, with symptoms typically starting when you are between 20 to 40 years old.

“MS symptoms are variable and unpredictable. No two people have exactly the same symptoms, and each person’s symptoms can change or fluctuate over time. One person might experience only one or two of the possible symptoms while another person experiences many more.”

National Multiple Sclerosis Society on MS Symptoms

From fatigue, weakness, and problems walking to vision problems, including the onset of blurred vision, MS can have many different symptoms.

What Causes Multiple Sclerosis?

Some people may be surprised that doctors have known about Multiple Sclerosis since the 1870s. They recognized people with the symptoms of MS even earlier.

Unfortunately, we still don’t know what causes it.

Can Vaccines Cause Multiple Sclerosis?

Without a known cause, it is easy to understand why some folks blame vaccines.

How many infants got hepatitis B in France because of low levels of vaccination after they blamed the vaccine for causing MS?
How many infants got hepatitis B in France because of low levels of vaccination after they blamed the vaccine for causing MS?

We see the same thing with many other conditions.

Remember though, just because you don’t know what causes something doesn’t mean that you can’t eliminate things that don’t cause it.

“Concern about hepatitis B vaccination arose from France in the mid 1990s. Following a mass hepatitis B vaccination program in France there were reports of MS developing in some patients a few weeks after receiving the vaccine. In 1998, the French government stopped the school-based hepatitis B component of the vaccination program while they investigated a possible relationship between hepatitis B vaccine and demyelinating disease. When studies of the French vaccine recipients were completed they showed that there was not a significant increase in the number of vaccinated people who developed MS as compared with those who had never received hepatitis B vaccine.”

Hepatitis B and multiple sclerosis FactSheet

And more than a few studies have shown that vaccines do not cause Multiple Sclerosis.

From the hepatitis B vaccine to the HPV vaccines, it has been shown that vaccines do not cause Multiple Sclerosis.

It has also been shown that vaccines don’t increase the risk of relapses for people who already have MS.

“…vaccines are able to prevent some infections in MS patients known to accelerate the progression of the disease and increase the risk of relapses.”

Mailand et al on Vaccines and multiple sclerosis: a systemic review

And yes, since new infections may trigger MS relapses, vaccines have an added benefit for MS patients.

And that’s why it is recommended that patients with MS follow the standard Centers for Disease Control immunization schedule. They may need to avoid getting live vaccines while taking specific MS medications though, as some of these can suppress their immune system.

“In the last few years a number of MS-focused vaccines have shown promising results in early phase clinical trials, and with each success the technology is closer than ever to offering a viable treatment option.”

Dr. Karen Lee on MS vaccines: Thinking outside the box for new treatments

While everyone hopefully now understands that any talk about MS being associated with vaccines is just another myth or scare tactic of the anti-vaccine movement, vaccines may one day really be associated with MS – therapeutic vaccines are in development that can treat people with Multiple Sclerosis!

What to Know About Vaccines and Multiple Sclerosis

Although it is still not known what does cause Multiple Sclerosis, we do know that it is not vaccines, which may actually reduce the risk of relapses for folks who already have MS.

More on Vaccines and Multiple Sclerosis

Did Utah Ban the HPV Vaccine?

The Gardasil vaccine seems to provoke a lot of controversy and still more misinformation, even as compared to typical anti-vaccine rhetoric.

Maybe since it is a newer vaccine or because it is for an STD, but for whatever reason, some folks can’t get over the fact that study after study has proven that the HPV vaccines are safe and effective.

Did Utah Ban the HPV Vaccine?

So if it is so safe and effective, then why did Utah ban the use of Gardasil?

They didn’t.

There is a very small sliver of truth to the story though.

“Citing low demand, high costs — and questioning the benefits, Utah’s Southwest Public Department of Health does not stock or recommend Gardasil, the vaccine against HPV, the cancer-causing human papilloma virus.”

The Salt Lake Tribune

In most states, a decision like that by the Department of Health would be a big deal, because it would likely have to come from the state health department.

Not so much in Utah, where their 13 local health departments are independent of the Utah Department of Health. And they are each governed by local boards of health using a decentralized organizational model.

So the decision to ‘ban Gardasil’ wasn’t made by “Utah,” where the Department of Health has actually been recommending the vaccine since 2006.

It wasn’t even made by the Board of Health for the Southwest Public Department of Health.

The decision was made by one person – the agency’s director, Dr. David Blodgett.

Where Else Has Gardasil Not Been Banned

Even then, Gardasil wasn’t actually banned in the Beaver, Iron, Garfield, Kane and Washington counties of southern Utah that are served by the Southwest Public Department of Health where he is the director. The vaccine just wasn’t available at health department clinics in the area.

The Utah Department of Health actively encourages kids to get their HPV vaccine as a way to help prevent them from getting cancer.
With the exception of David Blodgett, the Utah Department of Health actively encourages kids to get their HPV vaccine as a way to help prevent them from getting cancer.

You could still get the vaccine at a doctor’s office or clinic, including free HPV vaccines from clinics that participate in the Vaccines for Children program.

So again, Gardasil wasn’t banned in Utah or even this part of southern Utah.

And do you know where else you can still get an HPV vaccine?

The 2016 routine and voluntary immunization schedule in Japan.
The routine and voluntary immunization schedule in Japan still includes the HPV vaccine.

Gardasil is still available in Japan, India, France, Spain, and all of the countries where anti-vaccine folks say it was also banned.

Even in Japan, where governmental authorities did withdraw support for the vaccine while the Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare in Japan further investigated safety and efficacy claims, an Expert Council on Promotion of Vaccination consisting of 17 Japanese academic societies recommends “renewed proactive support for the widespread use of the HPV vaccine.”

That’s no big surprise, because like other vaccines, the HPV vaccines are safe, effective, and necessary.

What To Know About the Myth of a Gardasil Ban in Utah

Gardasil was never banned in Utah. The director of one local health department has decided to not make it available at local health department clinics in southern Utah since 2013.

More About the Myth of a Gardasil Ban in Utah