Global Health & Medicine 2023;5(4):255-256.
Underlying background of the current trend of increasing HPV vaccination coverage in Japan
Namba M, Kaneda Y, Kawasaki C, Shrestha R, Tanimoto T
Cervical cancer is prevalent among women, with a reported 604,127 cases in 2020 worldwide. The incidence of cervical cancer has been mitigated in most high-income countries by promoting the human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccine. However, in Japan, cervical cancer is still a leading cause of mortality and the most prevalent cancer among women aged between 15 and 39. This can be attributed to the 7-year suspension of HPV vaccination recommendations by the Japanese government. A decline in vaccination coverage followed this suspension, caused by a small number of reported adverse events, resulting in a steep decline in vaccination coverage from over 70% to less than 1%. However, there have been indications of a change in trend in Japan. In 2020, a group of volunteer doctors initiated awareness-raising activities through social networking services and other platforms, and the target population that received at least one dose of the vaccine in 2020 increased to 15.9%. Additionally, in July 2020, the Japanese government approved the updated 9-valent HPV vaccine and resumed recommendations in November 2021. As a result, 30.1% of those eligible for routine HPV vaccination received at least one dose of the vaccine from April to September, 2022. However, the HPV vaccine coverage in Japan is still far from the 90% recommended by the World Health Organization, and continued communication and education on the vaccine’s benefits are necessary to achieve optimal coverage.