TOKYO: The rates of children being vaccinated for measles and bacterial meningitis in Japan are on the decline, a recent survey by a nonprofit organization has found.
The NPO, Know VPD! Protect Our Children, said some parents may be shying away from taking their children to the hospital for vaccinations due to the effects of the COVID-19 epidemic.
For the survey, the NPO gathered information on the vaccination statuses of 103,108 children born between April 2017 and January this year, through a free smartphone app designed for parents to enter such data. The survey looked at the ratios of those who have taken the first round of pneumococcus vaccine for children and the first stage of measles-rubella vaccine.
The NPO found that the proportion of children getting pneumococcus vaccines, effective in preventing bacterial meningitis, by the third month of their lives was on the decline for children born in November 2019 or later, and the rate for children born in January this year was around 20 percentage points lower compared to babies born in earlier months. Bacterial meningitis can expose newborns to the threat of death or severe aftereffects.
Meanwhile, the survey saw a drop of roughly 20 percentage points in the proportion of children who took the measles-rubella vaccine for those born in December 2018 or later. The vaccine is administered one year after birth, and the survey looked at children who were 14 months old.
"For both vaccines, less children taking them means a drop in herd immunity," said Akinori Sugaya, a pediatrician and head of the NPO. "I hope parents will try to get their children vaccinated as soon as possible."