TOKYO — Vaccines are a highly politicized subject in many countries. Just look at Donald Trump’s repeated claims in the Republican presidential race that childhood vaccinations cause autism.
In Japan, a vigorous debate is underway over the safety of vaccinations against HPV, a virus that can lead to cervical cancer. Opponents say the vaccines — which have been given to more than 80 million girls and women around the world in the past nine years — are dangerous and cause mobility problems that can sometimes be severe.
Health experts say that the vaccines are safe and effective and that not vaccinating girls puts them at much greater risk of developing cervical cancer later in life. Global health authorities, including the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, agree.
The Japanese government, which responded to concerns two years ago by withdrawing its recommendation that girls ages 12 to 16 have the HPV vaccine, is now having a tough time trying to reverse that decision.
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