This week I discovered that Japan’s HPV vaccine rate has dropped to almost zero today from 70% in 2013. It’s a horror story for those of us supporting vaccination. Are there lessons for us in New Zealand and around the world?
One tactic used in Japan was to bombard vaccine positive blogs with miss-information as a way of hijacking the message. Over the last six months we have seen this happen in New Zealand especially with the Diplomatic Immunity blog on Science blogs. On that site we have seen one troll after another.
Another tactic used in Japan, was the, “My friend had the vaccine and… bad things happened”. That one was spread through an uncritical media to the Japanese public. I think the media in New Zealand are a little better but even so pretty dodgy stories are published. In Japan, social media spread the rubbish too. We know, that is a problem here. Please keep pressure on local media to recognize evidence based medicine over rubbish.
Another problem in Japan was lawyers sensing opportunity. As I understand it, the ACC legislation reduces this as a problem here. (And in Japan a researcher may well have made and spread fraudulent scary reports which made scary rumours scarier).
So what do I want you to do.
I think there is an important task for us. As well as having our shots and making sure our children get theirs too. We must talk about vaccination. Tell the story, “My daughter received her vaccine last week, she’s healthy and happy. Isn’t it wonderful that she will stay healthy to old age”. (Substitute grand-daughter, friend’s daughter as appropriate). We can all spread that message. If we did that, we would be inoculating our communities against the misinformation and those who spread it.
Here is the HPV Immunisation Programme for New Zealand: Available to everyone (Young men and women) here under 18 and residents up to 26.
Sorry for the lecture but I’m annoyed about this.
The Japanese story