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The MMR Vaccine in Japan – protection against Measles, Mumps and Rubella

h By Petra Canan Trudell

February 28, 2017

Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) are three serious diseases that were previously very common among children. These conditions led to symptoms including rashes, swollen glands, arthritis and, in the case of measles, even brain damage and death. In order to combat the prevalence of these airborne diseases, a vaccine was released for widespread usage in 1989. Known as the MMR vaccine, this treatment is recommended for children as young as 12 months in age.  Here HealthyTokyo tells you exactly what you need to know about the MMR vaccine in Japan.

mmr vaccine in Japan

There has been some controversy associated with the implementation of the MMR vaccine in Japan. The possible side effects of the vaccine include mild issues such as allergic reaction, fever, rash and swelling of the cheeks or neck; as well as more serious concerns, such as seizures, joint pain and hearing loss. Despite the side effects, the vaccine was adopted for widespread use by developed nations around the globe. It is important to note that there are risks associated with any vaccine.  Japan, however, reported several cases of non-viral meningitis and other adverse reactions in the 1.8 million children or more who had been immunized during a four-year period.  This equates to approximately one in every 900 children reportedly experiencing negative reactions. These results, as well as growing public opposition to the vaccine, eventually led the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare to ban the MMR vaccine in Japan in 1993. A ban that remains to this day as the agency awaits the development of a combined vaccine they consider safer.

But if you have a baby in Japan, can your child still get vaccinated against these diseases? The answer is yes. While the original MMR vaccine was banned in 1993, after a second version was trialled in 1991, the individual vaccines for measles, mumps and rubella remain available to parents looking to immunize their children. These monovalent vaccines are an effective way to protect your child against these serious diseases and their harmful symptoms.

If you’re interested in having your child vaccinated, speak with your physician about the options available. The King Clinic in Omotesando specializes in immunizations and vaccinations.  If you live in Yokohama, Ocean Clinic can also cover all your vaccination needs.  Not all vaccines are included in the national immunization program, so it is important to be specific about which shots you would like your child to have. Unfortunately, this may mean more out-of-pocket costs for parents. If you’re not covered by the Japan National Health Insurance (NHI) program, please check with your insurance provider of any additional costs.


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