Sunday, February 1, 2009

"Measles Kingdom:" Japanese Universities Push for Increased Vaccinations

A Japanese newspaper reported today that nearly 80% of major universities in Japan intend to require incoming students to get vaccinated for measles before starting classes with the hope of preventing future outbreaks. Despite increased government efforts to implement measles vaccination programs, the vaccination rate remains under 50% for students already in their third year of high school. This rate is particularly low in cities such as Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto. Last year, the number of measles patients in the country rose to about 11,000, landing Japan the dishonorable nickname: "measles kingdom." This figure sharply juxtaposes the 66 reported cases in the United States, where most primary schools require children to be vaccinated twice before enrollment. About 80 universities were forced to cancel classes for up to two weeks in 2007 due to measles outbreaks, which have increasingly occurred among people in their 20’s.

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