Rubella prevention in Japan

Hand of doctor holding vaccination

In Japan, the government has said that it will offer free rubella vaccinations for three years to men who were not vaccinated in their childhood. This is in response to an outbreak of the disease that is likely to negatively affect demand for travel to Japan.

The total number of rubella patients in Japan this year has reached 2,454, which tops the figure for 2012 when the previous outbreak began. The spread of the disease is believed to be largely caused by unvaccinated men aged 39-56. This will be the targeted age group for vaccination.

The idea is that vaccinations and antibody tests will be offered free through to March 2022 for men in this age group who were not vaccinated under regular public programmes. To avert a potential vaccine shortage, people are first asked to take antibody tests. “We have compiled the additional measure for the safety of the people. We will help municipalities organise (antibody tests and vaccinations),” said Health Minister Takumi Nemoto.

Rubella is usually spread through the air via coughs of people who are infected. Although it is often mild, and people may not know they have the disease, complications may include bleeding problems, testicular swelling, and inflammation of nerves, while infection during early pregnancy can cause serious complications. The disease is preventable, with a single dose of the vaccine being more than 95-per-cent effective.