Japanese government withdraws HPV vaccine recommendation for girls

   Japanese media report that the Japanese government withdrew its HPV vaccine recommendation for girls due to possible adverse effects such as long-term pain and numbness. The Tokyo Times reports that HPV 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.”  Mariko Momoi, a vice president of the International University of Health and Welfare in Ōtawara, Tochigi, Japan, said, “The decision does not mean that the vaccine itself is problematic from the viewpoint of safety. By implementing investigations, we want to offer information that can make the people feel more at ease.” A Merck company spokesman was quoted as stating: “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.” Both Gardasil and Cervarix “are (still) 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.”