Feb 6, 2012

JAPAN - Polio shot sheds light on vaccine lag System, bureaucratic cowardice work against new drug approvals.

When she gave birth five months ago, Tokyo resident Yumiko Sakai was determined to have her baby vaccinated to protect him from preventable diseases.

Among the several different vaccinations recommended for babies is the one for polio. Unlike the inactivated polio vaccine commonly used in developed countries, alive-attenuated vaccine, taken orally, is common in Japan, where the inactivated vaccine hasn't been approved.

On learning that the inactivated polio vaccine is considered safer because it holds fewer risks of paralytic poliomyelitis, and is commonly used in industrialized nations, Sakai took her son to a clinic in Tokyo that individually imports the inactivated type even though it would cost her more.

"I've watched news stories about the side effects of oral polio vaccines, so I wanted to choose a vaccine that was as safe as possible," the young mother said.

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