Tracking the global spread of vaccine sentiments: The global response to Japan's suspension of its HPV vaccine recommendation

Heidi J. Larson* (Corresponding Author), Rose Wilson, Sharon Hanley, Astrid Parys, Pauline Paterson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

109 Citations (Scopus)
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In June 2013 the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare (MHLW) suspended its HPV vaccination recommendation after a series of highly publicized alleged adverse events following immunization stoked public doubts about the vaccine's safety. This paper examines the global spread of the news of Japan's HPV vaccine suspension through online media, and takes a retrospective look at non-Japanese media sources that were used to support those claiming HPV vaccine injury in Japan. Methods: Two searches were conducted. One searched relevant content in an archive of Google Alerts on vaccines and vaccine preventable diseases. The second search was conducted using Google Search on January 6th 2014 and on July 18th 2014, using the keywords, “HPV vaccine Japan” and “cervical cancer vaccine Japan.” Both searches were used as Google Searches render more (and some different) results than Google Alerts. Results: Online media collected and analyzed totalled 57. Sixty 3 percent were published in the USA, 23% in Japan, 5% in the UK, 2% in France, 2% in Switzerland, 2% in the Philippines, 2% in Kenya and 2% in Denmark. The majority took a negative view of the HPV vaccine, the primary concern being vaccine safety. Discussion: The news of Japan's suspension of the HPV vaccine recommendation has traveled globally through online media and social media networks, being applauded by anti-vaccination groups but not by the global scientific community. The longer the uncertainty around the Japanese HPV vaccine recommendation persists, the further the public concerns are likely to travel.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2543-2550
Number of pages8
JournalHuman Vaccines & Immunotherapeutics
Issue number9
Early online date13 Nov 2014
Publication statusPublished - 13 Nov 2014


  • cervical cancer
  • HPV
  • Japan
  • social media
  • vaccine
  • vaccine history


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