MMR – Japan is now out of fashion

By AnthonyLast updated: Thursday, March 3, 2005 • Save & ShareOne Comment

Japan is offically out of fashion. For years anti-MMR campaigners have used the example of Japan, to attack MMR use in the UK. For example the JABS website has an article entitled MESSAGE ON MMR FROM JAPAN, you can get the feel of the message JABS wish to spread about the Japan experience and by implication MMR vaccine from the following section:

IAN WILLIAMS: “Not only has Japan abandoned MMR in favour of the single measles shot, but this has had a wider impact. Such is public disillusion with what’s seen as dishonest, bungling bureaucrats that it has undermined public confidence in vaccination. When Mayu (close up of little girl on swing) was born six years ago, her parents were wary of all vaccines. They insisted on an allergy test before a measles jab. This proved positive. A full inoculation might have killed their daughter. Last year, though, Mayu contracted a serious dose of measles. Thankfully, she fully recovered. Her parents’ opinions have hardened: like a growing number of Japanese they would rather risk illness than vaccines.”

“I have a distrust and fear about putting dangerous things into my body. I also doubt whether the answers from the government are true – or even from doctors – because they all say something different. We have to make our own choice.”

Japan has been used to cast doubt on MMR, and more generally to spread fear about vaccines. However, it should be remembered that the MMR vaccine in Japan was not the same as the MMR vaccine in the UK, and the reason for its withdrawal was because of a problem with the Mumps component of the vaccine – The Urabe strain used in the vaccine caused cases of aseptic mumps viral meningitis. (Paradoxically the Department of Health had to move to block importation of the Urabe strain of mumps vaccine in 2002 to prevent it being used by parents wishing to avoid the UK MMR vaccine.)

Now Japan is back in the news. The move to single vaccines in Japan, allowed researchers to examine the rates of autism reported before and after the withdrawal of MMR vaccine. Autism rates continued to rise.

There is so much evidence available, and concerns about the work of Dr Wakefield, that the idea of a MMR-autism link has been demolished. This study puts the rubble in a skip and landscapes a nice manicured lawn over the place where it once stood. On it you can see people milling about saying “What on earth was that all about?”

Except of course, for some people.

Like JABS.

Who the BBC, for some extraordinary reason, believe should be given a platform to express their views. Jackie Fletcher from JABS is given the last word in the news story on MMR vaccine:

“Instead of relying on research carried out abroad, we would like the government to actually clinically investigate the 1,700 children believed to have been affected by the MMR jab in the UK.”

As you can see Jackie is less than impressed with the results from Japan these days. I wonder why.

I’ve just finished reading Denying the Holocaust by Deborah Lipstadt. While it would be both stupid and crass to directly compare Holocaust deniers with the anti-vaccine lobby, some of the methods of arguments and willingness to selectively chose or ignore evidence to fit a pre-existing view seemed all too familiar.

The BBC wouldn’t give the time of day to flat earthers, or Holocaust deniers. With the weight of evidence we have now on MMR, it’s time that they gave up taking their JABS.

[Abstract of Japan Research]

UPDATE: New Scientist article and these graphs are worth looking at.

The following figure is from Honda’s paper.

FIGURE: Yokohama City MMR vaccination rates by birth year (1988-1992), and annual trends in cumulative incidences of ASD with and without developmental regression up to seven years in the birth cohort in the catchment area.

MMR is not linked to autism

From:Honda, Hideo, Shimizu, Yasuo & Rutter, Michael (2005)
No effect of MMR withdrawal on the incidence of autism: a total population study.
Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry 0 (0), -.
doi: 10.1111/

Filed in Vaccines

One Response to “MMR – Japan is now out of fashion”

Comment from PooterGeek
Time 3/3/2005 at 9:18 pm

I checked your place this morning because I was thinking about ‘Blogging that BBC report, mainly for the bigoted and mendacious quote that ended it. It’d be useful to be able to transport people back to a British classroom in the 40s where at least a couple of seats would have been emptied by fatal infectious disease to bring home to these dangerous fools how lucky they are to be exploited by the conspiracy between the sinister public health system and the evil private drug companies.