Japan’s Wakefield Moment?

Medical and health professionals have been appealing to Japan’s leadership to reinstate a proactive recommendation of the HPV vaccination. Since its suspension in June 2013, uptake declined from nearly 80% to under 5%.

“The public reaction in Japan. . . speaks both to the power of the Japanese government’s voice—and how powerful the absence of its voice can be,” writes Heidi Larson, senior lecturer at the London School of Medicine & Tropical Hygiene, in a joint commentary with Stephen Morrison, senior vice president and director of the Global Health Policy Center.

Left unresolved, the situation resembles the crisis created by the British researcher Andrew Wakefield, the pair observes. In 1998, Wakefield fabricated evidence and advanced the spurious claim that his research proved a causal link between childhood vaccines and autism. It took more than a decade to repair the damage to public trust.

The Vaccine Confidence Project

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