Tag: Japan

We Know What Happens If We Stop Vaccinating

It’s no surprise.

If we stop vaccinating, diseases that are now vaccine preventable will come back.

How do we know?

Because it has happened already.

We Know What Happens If We Stop Vaccinating

It has happened a lot, actually.

Remember when Sweden stopped using the DPT vaccine?

Between 1979 and 1996, Sweden suspended vaccination against pertussis because of concerns about the DPT vaccine.

Justus Ström‘s data was wrong…

And what happened?

“In 1979, the Swedish medical society abandoned whole-cell pertussis vaccine and decided to wait for a new, safer, more effective vaccine – a strategy that was soon adopted as national policy. During 1980-83, annual incidence for children aged 0–4 years increased to 3370 per 100000, with rates of serious complications approaching global rates. In subsequent years, Sweden reported more than 10000 cases annually with an incidence exceeding 100 per 100000, comparable to rates reported in some developing countries.”

Ganarosa et al on Impact of anti-vaccine movements on pertussis control: the untold story.

Pertussis came back.

In fact, endemic pertussis came back.

“Our evaluation of pertussis in the unimmunized child population gave an answer to the question of whether pertussis nowadays is a harmless disease which does not demand general vaccination. The present situation regarding pertussis in Sweden and the low efficacy of the antimicrobial treatment indicate an urgent need to prevent the disease by general vaccination as soon as a safe and effective vaccine is available.”

Romanus et al on Pertussis in Sweden after the cessation of general immunization in 1979.

Of course, they already had a safe and effective vaccine at the time. All of the claims against the whole cell pertussis vaccine ended up being untrue.

The same thing happened when Japan stopped using the MMR vaccine.

“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

What happened in Ukraine when immunization rates dropped in the 1990s? There were 17,387 cases of diphtheria and 646 deaths from 1992 to 1997. Also high, were cases of measles (over 23,000 cases in 1993) and pertussis (almost 7,000 cases in 1993).

Remember the measles outbreaks that spread across Europe in 2010 to 11, leading to about 30,000 cases of measles each year, and at least 28 deaths?

That should have been enough to warn folks, but it didn’t.

Things are much worse now, with over 120 measles deaths in Europe over the past few years.

More recently, in Venezuela, shortages of most things have led to ongoing epidemics of measles and diphtheria, a “potential for reemergence of poliomyelitis,” and a risk to neighboring countries.

“Officials say the low coverage rate and widespread transmission of the virus is due to many factors, including transport costs for those in rural areas, a high number of people with weakened immune systems, such people living with HIV and tuberculosis – and vaccine refusal.”

Ukraine: Red Cross deployed to help contain largest measles outbreak in Europe in four years

And once again, there are measles outbreaks in Ukraine. This time, they have spread to many other countries, fueling outbreaks in Israel and the United States.

We know what happens if we stop vaccinating. Get vaccinated and stop the outbreaks.

Vaccines are safe, with few risks, and are very obviously necessary.

More on What Happens If We Stop Vaccinating

Japan’s Rubella Outbreak Should Be a Warning About What Could Happen Here

Do you remember when we used to have rubella outbreaks in the United States?

There is a level 2 travel alert for Japan because of outbreaks of rubella.

Yeah, me neither, but in the rubella epidemics of the 1960s, rubella caused 2,100 neonatal deaths and 20,000 infants to be born with congenital rubella syndrome.

Japan’s Rubella Outbreak

Thanks to the rubella vaccine, the ‘R’ in the MMR, we rarely hear about rubella anymore.

Tragically, like measles and other vaccine-preventable diseases, rubella is coming back.

RubellaCongenital Rubella Syndrome
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There are still relatively few cases, but most of us would like to keep it that way.

The US had a big spike in rubella cases in the last 1980s.

We remember that with the return of measles in the late 1980s, rubella came back right along with it, causing 13 deaths and 77 cases of congenital rubella syndrome!

And that’s what is happening in many countries right now.

In Japan, for example, in addition to a rise in measles cases this year, they are seeing big outbreaks of rubella, with weekly totals exceeding 100 cases! These are numbers that are close to what they saw during outbreaks in 2013, a year that ended with 14,344 cases of rubella and 32 cases of congenital rubella syndrome.

Japan is on track to have a big rubella year.
Japan is on track to have a big rubella year.

And they are already reporting at least one case of congenital rubella syndrome, a 4 week old, which is not surprising, considering that they had nearly 3,000 cases of rubella last year.

A newspaper article in 1965 warned about the perils of rubella and congenital rubella syndrome.
A newspaper article in 1965 warned about the perils of rubella and congenital rubella syndrome.

Is that what we want to happen here too? Are folks looking forward to having to worry about babies being born with congenital rubella syndrome, a vaccine-preventable disease?

A vaccine-preventable disease that was declared eliminated in the United States in 2004.

More on Japan’s Rubella Outbreak

Vaccine PSA’s and Posters from Other Countries

For some reason, there are folks think that other countries don’t vaccinate and protect their kids as well as we do in the United States.

Of course, looking at the immunization schedules in many of these countries, it is easy to see that simply isn’t true.

Many countries use immunization schedules that are very similar to the one is used in the United States.

Vaccine PSA’s and Posters from Other Countries

Many of these countries are a little more creative in the ways that they encourage folks to get vaccinated and protected though.

Before you travel, get vaccinated! A PSA in Japan where the goal is measles zero.
Before you travel, get vaccinated! A PSA in Japan where the goal is measles zero.
This French poster helped show that measles could be serious for older children and young adults.
This French poster helped show that measles could be serious for older children and young adults.
Vaccinate your kids to boost their ability to fight disease.
Vaccinate your kids to boost their ability to fight disease.
This Korean poster encourages folks to vaccinate their family.
This Korean poster encourages folks to vaccinate their family.
I protect myself, I protect others, I'm getting myself vaccinated
I protect myself, I protect others, I’m getting myself vaccinated
An immunization poster contest winner from Nova Scotia.
An immunization poster contest winner from Nova Scotia.
Korean vaccination poster with a superhero.
Korean vaccination poster with a superhero.
People come before the flu in Germany. Get your flu vaccine each year.
People come before the flu in Germany. Get your flu vaccine each year.
In New Zealand, they know the best time to vaccinate and protect their kids - today!
In New Zealand, they know the best time to vaccinate and protect their kids – today!
A poster in Malaysia emphasizes that you if you wait too long to get your child vaccinated and protected, then they could get sick.
A poster in Malaysia emphasizes that you if you wait too long to get your child vaccinated and protected, then they could get sick.
Parents of Earth, are your children fully immunized?
Best vaccine poster ever?

Immunization posters won’t ever replace the information you get from your pediatrician, but they can help you get educated and raise awareness about new vaccines and new recommendations. In any language.

More on Vaccine PSA’s from Other Countries

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

Measles Deaths in the 21st Century

Breaking News – there are reports of two new deaths in Italy, including a young patient who died of measles encephalitis in 2017 and a young adult with leukemia just last month. (see below)

Measles is a big killer.

According to the WHO, “In 2015, there were 134,200 measles deaths globally – about 367 deaths every day or 15 deaths every hour.”

But it wasn’t that long ago, in 1980, that measles was causing at least 2.6 million deaths a year. And just 17 years ago, in 2000, measles caused about 777,000 deaths worldwide.

Measles Deaths in the 21st Century

While some experts doubt if we will ever truly eradicate measles, like we have done for smallpox, a lot of progress is being made on reducing measles outbreaks and deaths thanks to routine and supplemental immunizations.

Tragically, measles still kills.

“For every 1,000 children who get measles, one or two will die from it.”

CDC – Complications of Measles

And it is not just in developing countries that don’t have access to vaccines or adequate levels of vitamin A or modern healthcare. It should also be obvious, when you look at the cases below, that you don’t have to wait for there to be a 1,000 people in an outbreak for there to be a death. It could be the first person in the outbreak or you might see three deaths between cases 3,000 to 4,000.

Dr. Bob Sears actually reassured parents that measles wasn't deadly in developed countries, neglecting to mention the dozens of people who have died in outbreaks in Europe - another well-nourished population with lower vaccination rates than the U.S.
Dr. Bob Sears actually reassured parents that measles wasn’t deadly in developed countries, neglecting to mention the dozens of people who have died in outbreaks in Europe – another well-nourished population with lower vaccination rates than the U.S.

During the 2010 and 2011 outbreaks in Europe, after all, with about 30,000 cases of measles each year, there were at least 28 deaths. It’s worse now…

The National Center for Communicable Disease Control and Control in Romania is now reporting 59 measles deaths.
The National Center for Communicable Disease Control and Control in Romania is now reporting 59 measles deaths.

In the last few years, there are reports of at least 118 deaths in the measles outbreaks across Europe, including:

  • the death of a 10-month-old unvaccinated child in Bulgaria (among just 163 cases)
  • four deaths in France – a 16-year-old unvaccinated girl from Nice, who died in Marseille, a 32-year-old unvaccinated women in Poitiers, a 26-year-old with immune system problems who was probably infected by an unvaccinated relative, and a 16-year-old in Bordeaux, an immunosuppressed girl who had received a heart transplant when she was 2 years old. Three of the deaths have occurred in 2018 and there have been just 2,567 reported cases since November 2017.
  • the death of a 37-year-old partially vaccinated women (the mother of 3 kids) in Essen, Germany (among about 866 cases)
  • four deaths in Greece, where there have been 2,830 cases – including an 11-month-old unvaccinated infant, a 35-year old partially vaccinated mother, an unvaccinated 17-year-old, and a vaccinated, but immunosuppressed 18-year-old.
  • at least twelve deaths in Italy (four in 2017 and six in 2018, among just 7,649 cases), including a 6-year-old boy with leukemia who reportedly caught measles from an unvaccinated sibling. The other deaths included an unvaccinated 9-year-old girl, a 16-month-old, a man with a compromised immune system, a 27-year-old woman, a 25-year-old woman, and a 10-month-old boy.
  • two deaths in Kosovo, including a baby who died in a hospital in Pristina.
  • the death of a 17-year-old girl who was not vaccinated in Portugal (among just 31 cases)
  • 59 deaths in Romania, almost all unvaccinated children without preexisting conditions, including a three week old baby (among 14,142 cases since January 2016)
  • at least 15 deaths in Serbia (among about 5,598 cases), including a 20-year-old unvaccinated man, a two year old boy and mother, an unvaccinated 4-year-old, and a previously healthy, unvaccinated 30 year old woman.
  • one death in Spain
  • the death of a vaccinated man who was being treated for leukemia in Switzerland (among just 69 cases)
  • 17 deaths in Ukraine – eleven children and six adults, including an unvaccinated toddler who died at a children’s hospital in Odessa and a 10-month old (among about 24,000 cases, mostly unvaccinated children). This includes five deaths in 2017 – three children and two adults, among about 4,782 cases.

Unfortunately, measles cases continue to rise in most of these countries and many others…

The latest deaths – a young patient who died of measles encephalitis in 2017 and a young adult with leukemia just last month.

Outside of the EU, cases of measles and deaths include:

  • 3,150 cases in Israel and 2 deaths in 2018
  • 4,168 in the Philippines and 13 deaths in 2018
  • 13,817 cases in the DR Congo with at least 178 deaths
  • 2,246 cases in Ethiopia
  • 1,891 cases in South Sudan with at least 16 deaths
  • 1,527 cases in Guinea with at least 2 deaths
  • 10 deaths of children in Bangladesh
  • 40 deaths of infants in Indonesia
  • 17,772 cases in Nigeria with at least 105 deaths
  • 20 deaths and dozens of hospitalizations in Pakistan
  • about 1,735 cases and 10 deaths in Brazil
  • at least 97 deaths in Venezuela, including 53 deaths among Warao and Yanomami indigenous people

And although there haven’t been any deaths, there are also outbreaks in:

  • Japan – 282 cases (2018)
  • UK – 2171 cases (unconfirmed)
  • Canada – 29 cases (2018)
  • Australia – 91 cases (2019)
  • Argentina, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Peru

Are you planning a trip to Europe any time soon? How about Indonesia or DR Congo, for which the CDC has also issued travel health notices? Even if you aren’t, as these outbreaks rise, it increases the chances that another traveler will bring measles home and expose someone in your community, starting an outbreak.

And while we deal with folks who simply don’t want to vaccinate and protect their kids, no one should lose sight of the fact that “In 2015, there were 134,200 measles deaths globally – about 367 deaths every day or 15 deaths every hour.”

What To Know About Measles Deaths

Kids are still dying of measles and the big take away should be that it doesn’t take thousands of cases for there to be a death and it can happen to a healthy child in a developed country with modern healthcare.

Get Educated. Get Vaccinated. Stop the Outbreaks

More Information About Measles Deaths

Updated November 7, 2018

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