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Childhood Immunizations

Japan With Kids - Forums: Health Topics: Immunizations: Childhood Immunizations
By Anonymous on Sunday, May 2, 1999 - 6:30 am:

I have followed the Japanese immunization schedule 100% so far, though this summer I will be checking on other immunizations while in the USA on vacation. My daughter is now 2.5 years old. I figure that we will be living here for a while or traveling, and Asia is definitely a place that we will always be returning to, so the BCG wouldn't hurt. I remember being tested for tuberculosis in 4th grade in the school in Virginia (about 1969). Maybe tuberculosis is not currently a danger, but it could always make a come-back.
I know some parents follow the advice of doctors at some of the clinics for ex-pats, and follow a standard USA immunization schedule. It isn't free though! One thing about the BCG, it leaves 9 little prick marks on the arm that take quite a while to go away, depending. In my daughter's case it took about 20 months.
I wondered if the immunization schedule here reflected the fact of a much higher breast-fed infant population. Maybe the assumption is that the young babies don't need to be immunized as quickly since they are presumably receiving so many immunities from mother's milk.

By Natalie on Wednesday, May 5, 1999 - 5:15 pm:

I have two children (2 &3 yrs old) who were both born here in Tokyo. We are eventually planning to move back to Canada in about 3-4 yrs. We received advice from a British doctor as well as a Japanese doctor. Both said that the children didn't need the BCG since Canada, the US and the UK do not give them. They recommended that we follow the US immunization schedule (which is similar to Canada) and to follow the same time schedule. Also, in Japan, the health clinics do not offer HIB, or the combined MMR and the number of shots varies. It is quite expensive however, if you take your child to the ex-pat clinics as you have to pay cash.
Even though my children didn't get the BCG, I sometimes think they should have. I'm always hearing about the increase of tuberculosis in Japan and in the US and Canada. As more people immigrate to North America, the number of cases increases. But I've been told by the doctors here, that if you live in Tokyo not to worry. I will be going to Canada this winter, and I'm planning to ask the doctor if there are any changes in the Health officials stance on tuberculosis. If anyone has any info on this, I'd like to hear from you. Thanks.

By ruthgree on Thursday, May 20, 1999 - 12:12 am:

I'll be visiting Kyushu in June with my daughter. should she get the encephalitis vaccination? We'll be staying part time in a small town with lots of tambo.

By Cornelia on Saturday, May 22, 1999 - 8:03 am:

The Japanese encephalitis vaccine is a three shot affair over several weeks. Not enough time before June to get the whole thing.

By ruthgree on Friday, May 28, 1999 - 12:20 pm:

Is my daughter at risk without the vaccine? Do they check vaccination records or need any other health information at immigration?

By Emi on Sunday, June 6, 1999 - 1:24 pm:

Two new articles have just been added to the site:

Japanese Encephalitis in a Nutshell

A Uniquely Japanese Document: The Mother and Child Health Handbook (Boshi Techo)

By Natalie on Monday, June 7, 1999 - 6:43 pm:

To Emi Re: Boshi Techo
I had the Japanese version that had been certified at the ward office upon the birth of my son. But now I can't find it. I thought I had left it behind at a hospital but they say that it hasn't been found. What should I do? My son is 3 yrs old and attending a Japanese hoikuen. Do I need the official one or can I use my bilingual one that doesn't have the ward stamp in it?
Thank you for your help.

By Cornelia on Tuesday, June 8, 1999 - 12:42 am:

I imagine that a lost "Boshi Techo" would call for the same procedure as with any lost official documet. Report the loss, and go through the paperwork to obtain a replacement.
In this case the parallel bi-lingual version should be an asset just as a photocopy of a lost passport assists the officials greatly, but there is only one way to find out. Call or go to your local ward office ask what to do! Good luck.

By Carissa Hacku on Sunday, June 13, 1999 - 1:58 am:

hi, I live in the U.S.A and have a 9 month old daughter.
I am researching vaccinations to see what is indeed appropriate and have heard that the Japanese immunization schedule starts at an older age compared to the U.S.A. Would anyone reply and tell me when the first vaccination is and what, also when they start the MMR vaccination. Thank-you and much appriciated-carissa

By milan on Friday, June 18, 1999 - 10:45 pm:

I will be living in Toky for a year starting September 1998 with my daughter who will then be 22 months old. Since she is in the age group at risk for Japanese encephalitis, but is too young to receive the vaccine (?) I am a little worried.
Can I rely on preventative measures like long sleeves and mosquito repellent?

By Cornelia on Tuesday, June 22, 1999 - 3:19 pm:

Dear Milan, please read the article at:

It will answer your questions. For example your daughter is not too young to receive the vaccination. The following is a quote from the article, and indicates that Tokyo is extremely safe since 1969 regarding Japanese encephalitis. Incidentally there is a North American encephalitis also spread through mosquito bites, though many people have never heard of it.

*There has been no death from Japanese encephalitis since 1969 in Tokyo. The recent patient numbers (not fatality numbers) are as follows.
1997 0 (Tokyo) 6 (Japan)
1996 0 (Tokyo) 6 (Japan)
1995 0 (Tokyo) 4 (Japan)
1994 0 (Tokyo) 6 (Japan)
1993 0 (Tokyo) 8 (Japan)
1992 0 (Tokyo) 4 (Japan)
1991 0 (Tokyo) 14 (Japan)
1990 1 (Tokyo) 55 (Japan)
1989 0 (Tokyo) 32 (Japan)
1988 0 (Tokyo) 31 (Japan)
1987 1 (Tokyo) 44 (Japan)

By Natalie on Monday, June 28, 1999 - 1:49 pm:

I would like some info on whether I should have my children immunized against tuberculosis (BCG Vaccine). We plan to continue living in Tokyo for about 3 more years and do a little traveling around Japan during our holidays. We may visit Saipan/Guam or Phuket for a short vacation. The number of reported cases seems to be on the increase both in Tokyo as well as in the US.

By Anonymous on Wednesday, July 7, 1999 - 2:01 pm:

To: Natalie
Re: BCG imminuzation

We are currently living in Japan with our two children (11 months and 25 months). We will be here at least two more years. We are not going to have them immunized with BCG on the advice of our American pediatricians. They indicated that the vaccine is only 40-60% effective. The problem is that when we return to the US and enroll the children in school, they have to have a TB test. Because of the BCG vaccination, the TB test will always show a positive test result for TB. The children will then have to have a chest X-ray to prove that they are TB free. I'm not sure that the benefit from the vaccine is worth the years of X-rays that may be required by the school systems, employers, insurance agencies, etc. So, in spite of the fact that BCG is offered here, we are going to forego this vaccination.

By Cornelia on Wednesday, June 21, 2000 - 10:10 am:

Here is a list of the government provided vaccinations in Tokyo, Japan (free), all finished before four years old. I don't know what happens after the child enters first grade, but I know that many health initiatives are implemented through the school system. So if a child does not go to a Japanese school he/she may not receive the same services that a typical Japanese child would.

Tuberculin skin test : about 4-5 months after birth
Tuberculosis immunization (BCG) : a couple of days later (4-5 months after birth). This one looks really odd, twice the childs arm is punctured with a very fine array of 9 prongs and the immunization is rubbed in. Then after a day you can't hardly see anything happened but about a week later all 18 punctures become quite noticeable again. It takes 1 to 1.5 years for these marks to recede.

Polio (oral polio vaccine) : two step - first at about one year old and second at 6-7 months later

Diphtheria, Pertussis, Tetanus combination (DPT) : four step - (first term) first shot at about 7-8 months old, second shot a month later, third shot a month later, (2nd term) fourth shot at about 2 years old

Measles : at about 16-17 months old

Rubella : at about 20 months old

Japanese Encephalitis : three step - first shot at about 3 years old, second shot exactly one month later, third shot 6 months later (in other words to be finished in about a 7 month period)

My daughter has received all of them as of yesterday. Hopefully now we will have a year or so with fewer trips to the doctor and time taken off from work, etc.!

By Natalie on Wednesday, August 16, 2000 - 3:22 am:

Hi! I am so glad I found this forum! Ladies, please, help me to find japanese official immunisation schedule. I've spent hours searching the net and didn't find anything! (I saw the schedule in the end of page, is it complete?)

is it true that japan don't give mumps? Does anybody know why?

By Juliane Suzuki on Wednesday, August 16, 2000 - 6:50 am:


The attached URL gives the official immunization schedule according to the Immunization Law which was ammended on April 1, 1995. Unfortunately the schedule is in Japanese, I can translate it if you need, but gotta run now and get to work.

The schedule does vary slightly from Prefecture to Prefecture i.e. age the child can receive the immunization. We lived in Kansai when my son was born (April 1995) and his schedule varies slightly from my daughters (who was born in Yokohama in 1996).

Incidentally Kansai gave the MMR shot up to 1995, but no longer does. I am guessing it was dropped from the schedule because it is no longer considered a threat.

By NatalieB on Wednesday, August 16, 2000 - 7:58 am:

I think the following was mentioned previously under this topic: Some doctors recommend that families from overseas follow the immunization schedule of their country rather than that of Japan, especially regarding BCG for tuberculosis. Unless the family plans to reside in Japan for an extended period of time (over 10 years). Does anybody have any comments on this?

By Scott Hancock on Wednesday, August 16, 2000 - 9:10 am:

We have followed our U.S. schedule since our 6 & 9-year olds were born in Japan.

Possibly due as much to being illiterate in Japanese. Both my wife and I are from the U.S.

If one can read the various notices and deal in fully fluent Japanese, and plan to live indefinitely in Japan, I think it's more of a toss up. Also depends on if you are using strictly the Japanese health care system.


By Juliane Suzuki on Wednesday, August 16, 2000 - 8:32 pm:

In our case I compared the immunizations given in Japan and Australia and found that although the schedule varies somewhat, the diseaseas they are trying to prevent are almost identical.

I don't think you need to be here for years and years to consider going through the Japanese health care system, since the majority of immunizations are over in the first 2-3 years of the child's life.

What is important is to find out what immunizations your home country has and whether or not you can get them in Japan,so you can ensure your child gets all the immunization(s) they need no matter if they are in Japan or your home country.

I made sure our kids got the MMR and meningitis immunizations on trips home to Australia. Mind you it was quite a drama (since meningitis is given in 4 shots over 2 years) and I had to bring back live vaccines on the plane with me to keep to the schedule stipulated.

It's all a distant memory now and I am glad I went to the trouble.

I can appreciate how difficult the language barrier can be, but the system is not that complicated. The immunization schedules are sent out to residents twice a year (they are always the same btw), so if you can get someone to help you read the first form, then it's smooth sailing. In my experience, staff at the health centers, especially in areas such as Kanto, are usually fairly eager to help and the doctors all speak enough English to get by.

By Kaz Matsuki on Thursday, August 17, 2000 - 6:03 am:

In Japan, vaccines are classified by law into two categories, regular (teiki sesshu) and optional (nin-i sesshu) ones. Regular ones are offered by Japanese municipalities for free for certain age groups. Optional ones are not required by law to be provided, and thus are not free.

Mumps vaccine is an optional vaccine. Japanese cities and towns do not offer mumps vaccine, but still your child can be vaccinated in Japan, if you find a doctor who is willing to give a shot. But this is not always easy.

In 1989, Japan started a new MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine. In 1993, just four years later, it was withdrawn from the market, because the mumps component (Urabe strain) had an unusually high rate of a side effect. Although it was mild aseptic meningitis (with spontaneous healing) and occurred much less frequently in vaccines than in real mumps (1/11,000 vs 1/200), the outcry was loud.

The currently available vaccine in Japan for mumps is new and should be safer. Some doctors have longer and bitter memories, some have skepticism, but others still have faith in vaccines. Just shop around.

Kaz Matsuki, M. D.

By Natalie on Thursday, August 17, 2000 - 11:35 am:

Juliane Suzuki and Kaz Matsuki, thanks a lot :)

Juliane, if it's not a big trouble for you, please, translate the schedule for me. I don't even have the Japanese fonts.

By Sheri Nakken on Wednesday, October 18, 2000 - 11:42 am:

Am a Pediatric Nurse in the US and have great concerns about vaccines!

Here are some excellent intro articles to show you some of the risks that you need to examine and research:
Shots in the Dark by Barbara Loe Fisher
What's all the fuss about?
An introduction to the vaccination controversy
Vaccination: A Sacrament of Modern Medicine*
Richard Moskowitz, M.D.
Hepatitis B Disease & Vaccine Facts
Hepatitis B Vaccine: The Untold Story

And some of the hearings held during the last 18 months by Congress...

Conflict of Interest Hearings:

Chairman Dan Burton
Committee on Government Reform
“FACA: Conflicts of Interest and Vaccine Development: Preserving the Integrity of the ProcessEThursday, June 15, 2000

Hepatitis B Vaccine Hearings:
Hearings were held before a Congressional committee in May of 1999 and research is still continuing...
Subcommittee on Criminal Justice, Drug Policy and Human Resources Committee on Government Reform

"Hepatitis B Vaccine: Helping or Hurting Public Health"
The Subcommittee on Criminal Justice, Drug Policy, and Human Resources May 18, 1999

Mercury Hearings: Mercury in Medicine EAre We Taking Unnecessary Risks?

Autism & MMR Vaccine Hearings:

By Lori King on Wednesday, April 25, 2001 - 4:06 pm:

I would be interested to hear anyone's comments on Japanese Encephalitis. We just moved here 4 weeks ago and have 2 small children. I know that the Japanese children are required to have the vaccine but not necessarily children moving here from other countries. I have not given it to my children and am not sure if I should. Can someone give me some good advice? Thanks!

Lori King

By Guest on Thursday, November 1, 2001 - 4:37 pm:


I need some info for a friend of mine who is living in Saitama (Tsurugashima exactly). He has a 3 month old baby and is looking for a hospital in his locality where vaccinations for his baby can be done. He is interested in following the vaccination schedules of his native country. Suggestions are welcome. Thanks in advance.

By Charles Whiting on Friday, November 2, 2001 - 8:16 pm:


I have heard it bandied about that Japan began delaying the pertussis vaccine because of a correlation to its use in infants and SIDs, and that since delaying the pertussis vaccine until the child is 2 they have not had any SIDs since. Is this true? Where can I find credible sources for the scientific stdies which support this, and also the actual incidence of SIDs in Japan.

I have also heard repeated online that Japan stopped using the MMR after it was directly correlated with a significant rise in autism, opting for monovalent jabs for these three diseases, and that since doing this their rate of autism has fallen until it is now one tenth the rate of my country (US). Is this true, and again where can I find credible sources to support this.

Thanks to any who can help in this.

Charles Whiting

By Karen on Monday, November 12, 2001 - 6:49 pm:

Hi Charles,

I have a three-month-old boy and have done extensive research into the immunizations here. I consulted with Dr. Sakakibara at Tokyo University Hospital who was incredibly helpful in helping me locate mercury-free vaccines.

To answer your questions. As far as I know, Japan tried delaying pertussis vaccines only to have a few sporadic outbreaks so they reintroduced it. As of now they don't delay it until 2. DTaP vaccines are given at three months. Of note is that only the accellular DTaP vaccine is given in Japan (a step ahead of the States!).

As for the MMR shots. Yes, they do give them monovalently here. I don't know the results of this. I'm also not sure if it has been linked with a fallen rate of autism in Japan though I wouldn't be surprised.

I'm interested to find out where you got your info... re. fallen autism rates with monovalent MMR. If it's online I'd love to check it out.

Again, a good source of information in Tokyo would be Dr. Sakakibara who is a pediatric neurologist working out of Tokyo University Hospital.

Please feel free to contact me for more info.

Karen, Tokyo

By Karen on Thursday, December 13, 2001 - 3:20 pm:

Just wanted to add that the Japanese government has recommended the use of mercury-free vacccines. They will be on the market in Spring 2002.

By Sally Tominaga on Friday, April 11, 2003 - 9:53 pm:

I am arriving in Tokyo next week with my 12 week old baby who will be due for her immunization shots can anyone recommend a Child Health Clinics or a Western (preferably Australian doctor) who can help me or any information on this topic would be appreciated...thanks

By Susan Taylor on Friday, June 6, 2003 - 10:15 pm:

If you are looking for a English translation of the Japanese Immunization schedule, check this out!

Has the American one right there too!!

By Penny Poe on Friday, April 16, 2004 - 10:02 am:

BCG shot: Does anyone know if this shot can be given as a one spot prick (not 2 x 9?)? My son is now three years old and his marks are still really noticeable especially in the summer when he tans. My daughter should be getting her shot soon and I don't want to leave this mark on her if at all possible. Thanks for any info

By Yuko Kubota on Saturday, April 17, 2004 - 1:06 am:

Well, I've never heard of a one spot prick BCG shot, but the marks do take a long time to fade.

I know that during the younger ages they are more redish and bumpy and parents from abroad tend to worry. But my son is now 12 and his marks are completely skin color (he is of Japanese race as far as we know, but somehow has fair skin, greenish eyes and light brown hair). If you take a very close look you can see the 2 x 9 marks with fine wrinkles just like an old burn.

My marks are barely noticable now. If you take a close look there is one skin color mark smaller than half an inch in diameter. You'll probably don't realise it's a shot mark (Frankly I thought it looked cute when I saw it in the mirror just now :)

If your daughter is going to live in Japan, she won't have to worry because all her friends will have the same mark. But if she's not, I can understand your concerns.

So why not ask some older people in Japan to show you their marks. I'm sure they'll understand your situation if you explain it to them. And if you are still worried, then you can consult to a pediatrician. There was a moment when tuberculosis was thought to be exterminated. Maybe there are ways to avoid the marks. Who knows.

By Cornelia on Saturday, April 17, 2004 - 6:41 am:

I was a bit annoyed that they had to do the prick right on the top where it is most visible. It would not have been difficult to turn the arm a bit and place the pricks more on the inside or the underside. The pricks are flat and not so obvious now (my daughter is 7). I've got the smallpox vaccination on my arm which is more messy looking. All in all, I hope it provides adequate protection since I read that there is a new strain of tuberculosis on the rise.

By Kristin on Saturday, June 19, 2004 - 6:24 am:

Required immunizations: I am considering accepting a position in Japan but am concerned about the immunizations that might be required for my daughter to attend a private japanese yochien (kindergarten). Because of some of the same concerns mentioned in previous postings on this site, I have chosen only specific immunizations for my daughter. I am getting different information from someone in Japan (DPT only) and someone from the Japanese consulate in LA (everything).

Does someone have a child in a yochien and could tell me what immunizations were required?

By Scott Hancock on Saturday, June 19, 2004 - 2:11 pm:

Since you're talking about a private school, you should get this from the school you have in mind since there could easily be a difference.
If you email or fax the school in English, they might well be able to answer you. It's more possible to deal in English in writing than over the phone in general, I think.

By Kristin on Monday, June 21, 2004 - 3:12 am:

I wish it was that easy. Although I hear there are several school options it has been quite impossible to find contact information for schools from the states (we would be going to Kyushu). Perhaps someone could recommend a site with Yochien information in that region ... or perhaps someone has some experience with opting out of a particular immunization in Japan.

By Bethan Hutton on Monday, June 21, 2004 - 9:22 am:

When my son went to Japanese public daycare, and later to yochien, and when my daughter started at daycare, no one checked at all what immunisations they had had. I've never heard of it being a particular requirement here to have had them, though I know it is in the US. The reason you are not getting a clear answer to your enquiries may well be that it is not an issue here at all.

FYI, I have been roughly following the British immunisation schedule for my kids, which means they haven't had the BCG (tuberculosis) vaccine that most Japanese kids get, and I didn't bother with the chickenpox one either, but when I have explained at the regular health checks that I'm following the British schedule, that has been accepted with no problem.

By Yuko Kubota on Monday, June 21, 2004 - 12:23 pm:

I must confess I hadn't paid attention to this topic until now. I'm a Japanese resident and I've been raising my child here for 12 years.

Upon attending doctors, private kindergarten and public schools, I always did have to present a record of what vaccinations and deseases my child had experienced. But I've never heard of anyone being canceled their permission of enterance just because they've failed to have a vaccination or two. In fact, I think you are free to not get certain vaccinations due to your personal policy. For example, there is a large Christian cult that refuses all vaccinations, and I don't think all their children go to special schools just for them.

I think you just have to present the record so that the doctor or caretaker will know what to do in case of an emergency. Also doctors can give you advise on the vaccinations you've forgotten to take.

Of course as Scott suggested, private organizations might have different policies. But I'm sure you'll still have numerous options even if one yochien cannot accept you.

Btw, I wonder what part of Kyushu you're going to live in. Kyushu is large. If you can state your address as specifically as possible (you don't need to tell the numbers), maybe someone can find yochien websites through the internet.

By Sraboni Dutta on Sunday, July 11, 2004 - 11:00 pm:

Hi ,
I would like some info on Hepatitis vaccination.
My son who is 5 yrs old now, took 2 doses of Hepatitis vaccinaton , 2 yrs back. He took that 2 doses in a month gap and the Docter (University Hospital - Toho in Omori area) told me there is a 3rd dose , but it is not necessary. Recetly, I took my son for his 5 yrs check up (organised by Ku office). There the docter strongly suggestd that he should definitely get the 3rd dose too, without which the vaccination is not complete. He was also worried about the 2 yrs gap peroid which he feels is too late and was concerned about the effectiveness of the dose. Anyway, he still feels that I should go for it. Can anybody give me some suggestions?


By Nancy on Monday, July 12, 2004 - 12:37 am:

You have not said whether the vaccination was against Hep A, or B, or both, but in any event, the manufacturer would have prescribing information. If you know which vaccine your son was given, you could try and contact the manufacturer and seek their advice.
There is a blood test that can be administered for checking antibody response. This might be worth looking into as well.

By Cornelia on Tuesday, July 13, 2004 - 4:47 am:

I seem to remember that the 3 dose Hep vaccine is for Hep C. (Hep A used to always be a single shot ?gammaglobulin? in the buttocks muscle.) Hep C is a far bigger killer in the USA than AIDS, though there isn't nearly as big a fuss made about it in the news. I also did only the first two shots before leaving for Asia all those years ago, and never got the 3rd shot. So I don't know if I'm protected, or maybe only partially protected, etc. At any rate, I was not given information about the manufacturer, and when I look at my child's immunization records I realize that the information there is mostly written in a scribble (as well as in Japanese) so it would be hard for me to come up with that info even with a written record in hand. I might just try to find out about that antibody response test that Nancy mentions.

Bottom line though is that even Hep C is relatively rare, so don't panic. First you can research on the internet to get another opinion. Also you might try going to Dr. King in Harajuku. He gives a number of vaccines that are not always easily available, he has made a point of reading up on what is offered in the USA, so maybe he also knows something about your home country, his English is very good, and he accepts NHI which will not cover the cost of an optional vaccine but will cover the office visit. You might also be able to contact the doctor who administered the shots to your son and find out if he still has a record and give you the details of what brand the follow up shot should be.

By the way, Kristin - In my experience (seems to match Yuko Kubota's) the Japanese schools and kindergartens are not nearly as dictatorial with 'no acceptions' attitudes as the ones in the USA. I've read about children in the USA being barred from entry´to school, and it seems pretty outrageous. There is a lot of ignorance there and it's not clear if it is the medical professionals or the legislating officials who are responsible for it. For example, I would think that anyone who keeps up on the info from WHO (World Health Organization) would be knowledgeable about the BCG vaccine given in several Asian countries and the positive test result for TB that it produces in kids who return to the USA.

Blood testing is a tricky business. For example, DNA testing (like in criminal cases) can easily be wrong and should not be the sole evidence in finding someone guilty. Yet, in the USA there seems to be much reliance on and trust in these tests. I get the impression that the overall greater caution in Japan (sort of a cultural stereotype) also leads to less stringent vaccination demands. They seem naturally a bit more cautious with vaccines, reflected in the government policies and the list of childhood vaccination offered for free, and in particular the time line in which they are administered. A parent can decide not to have them administered without fear of repercussions.

By Dan Silver on Saturday, July 17, 2004 - 9:10 pm:

Hi. I 'm new to Japan and to this forum. I have two questions about my one-year old and I'm hoping someone can help out. He's been running a fever and batting his ears for two days. It also sounds like his throat is irritated. Our pediatrician here in Tokyo took a quick look at him and concluded it was a cold virus. I was surprised that he didn't take a throat culture for Strep. When I was a kid, this was routine. With the possibility of rheumatic fever from Strep, it seems like such an important thing to do the simple and cheap swab test. Anyone know why it wasn't done? Is this normal in Japan?

Second, my son's due for his next round of vaccinations. We haven't been able to find anyone offering the DTaP shots. So far, it's all the possibly less-safe DTP vaccine. Do any Tokyo pediatricians offer DTaP?

By Sue Slater on Saturday, July 17, 2004 - 11:07 pm:

Hi, does anyone know where I can get a Meningococcal B vaccination here in Tokyo for my daughter? I have been calling around to some clinics but nowhere so far can help me. Thanks.

By Luz Maria Yoshiura on Thursday, August 5, 2004 - 8:30 pm:

Hi, my husband is Japanese and I'm an American. We've been in Japan 2 years exactly.

Our kids (10 and 12 yrs. old) just received their 1st immunization shots for Japanese Encephalitis this week. The doctor told us that the 1st shot is free (paid by the Japanese government) but the 2nd required shot (a month later) we will have to pay. I hope this information will be helpful to "Tokyo with Kids" forums.

By Ritu on Monday, September 27, 2004 - 11:34 pm:

Hi all:

I'm writing to ask for advice on immunizations for my 4 year old. We are in Japan for another year and he will need to complete his immunizations as per the US schedule by July 2005 (TET, MMR, TPZ & DTP). Should I go to a private clinic that will administer based on US specifications, or are these vaccinations (US specifications) readily available at hospitals too (Hiroo and Aiku, for instance). I guess my medically uninformed question is are the vaccinations given here identical to the American ones or are there specifics I should be aware of (dosage, mercury based etc.). I would be very grateful for any advice anyone out there can provide, including recommendations for private clinics if that is the way to go. I have been taking my kids to Aiku for the occasional cough/cold/ear infection and have been very pleased with the care provided. Thanks in advance to those who will take a minute or two to give me some input on this.

Yuko, many thanks for your very helpful hints on "dani." I had posted you a note of thanks which I unthinkingly sent to the adm, (sorry, Cornelia).

Thanks again.

By Yuko Kubota on Wednesday, September 29, 2004 - 8:07 am:

Ritu, I'm glad my info on dani was helpful for you, and I hope someone can give you tips on the immunizations.

By Indo mommy on Wednesday, October 13, 2004 - 4:35 pm:

Hi all,

Could i get some information on the October scheduled influenza vaccinations for kids.

where do you get them? Are they essential, coz last year we missed out.

Thanks to all ahead!

By Yuko Kubota on Wednesday, October 13, 2004 - 5:24 pm:

Free vaccination schedules are always available at your local hokenjo (public health center). It is also usually thrown into your mailbox or come by kairanban (neighborhood circulation notice), so keep an eye on it if you can get someone to read Japanese.

However, I don't believe influenza vaccinations are essential nor free of charge. Instead, most pediatricians and physicians will be able to provide it with some fee. They might require reservation, so phone or knock in advance.

But in the 40 something years of our lives, both me and my husband have never taken one and we're alive and kicking. Neither my 12 year old son.

Pediatricians used to tell me that influenza vaccinations contains chicken egg contents, so that my son who was highly allergic to eggs should avoid it. I wonder if this situation has changed. Any insight?

Anyway, Cornelia on January 23, 2004 has written all about the balance between "safe" and "sorry," so I guess that at the end of the day it's up to you. And many locals do take the influenza vaccination.

On a related note, I hear that washing your hands thoroughly after coming home is effective on avoiding the flu, but this may be a very Japanese way of thinking, I'm not sure.

By Scott Hancock on Wednesday, October 13, 2004 - 5:31 pm:

Funny you should mention washing hands as a preventative for flu being a Japanese way of thinking. You are the one I can ask the question long on my mind-

Why do public washrooms have only cold water in the sink? Sciene-oriented westerners think using hot water increases such disease-preventing properties.



By Yuko Kubota on Wednesday, October 13, 2004 - 5:54 pm:

Scott, that is completely new to me. Well, I suppose public washrooms have only cold water in the sink, because they want to save their gas bills, eventually saving earth's energy. And also because it never occured to them that hot water increases such disease-preventing properties.

But you'll still be catching germs after you leave the public washrooms anyway. The important part, according to what I hear, is to wash after you arrive home, free from all the strangers, coins, stairway poles etc., etc,. etc.

Anyway, I'll make sure from now on to always wash my hands with hot water when I get home :)

By Nancy on Wednesday, October 13, 2004 - 9:44 pm:

Since soap and water are not always available, what about the hand cleaners that do not require water that are sold elsewhere? Do they sell these here? Do they also sell some kind of antiseptic wipes?

By Michael on Thursday, October 14, 2004 - 9:02 am:

Scott, Yuko makes a very good point when she mentions the cost required to heat water, but bacteria is also a likely factor.

If you could visually compare the inside of a used cold-water pipe to that of a used hot-water pipe (actually here in Japan, it is often a tube and not a pipe), I am certain that you would answer this question for yourself. The inside of the hot-water pipe would be absolutely disgusting (slimy gunk).

Historically cold water has been considered safe from the risk of Legionella if the water is stored and distributed at below 20 degrees Celsius. Hot water has always been considered to be at greater risk of contamination particularly at temperatures in the range 40 to 50 degrees Celsius.

Here is a link to an article with more detailed information:

By Scott Hancock on Thursday, October 14, 2004 - 9:50 am:

I'm sure it has been the cost factor at work. But, I'm very thankful to receive your reference and other information. This is really a great piece. Thanks for sending it.

Going to run my showers,now....

By Yuko Kubota on Thursday, October 14, 2004 - 9:59 am:

Hi Nancy, Michael and Scott,

"Wet tissues," usually containing something like ethanol etc., are a must for parents. I can't go to the movies without them, because my whole family eats buttered popcorn.

They come in carton size plastic packages, but there are portable ones as well, the size of "pocket tissues".

They are available at convenience stores, drug stores, 100 yen shops and supermarkets.

But be careful not to buy those for wiping toilet seats, as they are supposed to be too strong for wiping human skin.

And if your child is so young that (s)he constantly uses those things, a damp cloth in a plastic case would save paper.

The hot water issue reminds me of the hot air dryier they often have in public toilets. I suppose it was designed so that you won't have to worry about catching germs from public towels, but I once saw on TV that that air is filled with germs in the same sense as the hot water explained by Michael. I use my hanky to wipe my hands.

I guess it all come down to what you yourself think is best :)

By Scott Hancock on Thursday, October 14, 2004 - 10:10 am:

Can you let us know the Japanese for the wipes you're talking about? Are they all alcohol, or are there non-alcoho, anti-bacterial ones?

It might be interesting to start a site with images of products and what they are.

By Indo mommy on Thursday, October 14, 2004 - 10:20 am:

That's a good question.
Once my daughter had high fever, we were waiting for our turn at the doc. I had used some wet tissues to sponge her. In such cases alcohol cant be very good.

Can yuko clear that for us please?

By Yuko Kubota on Thursday, October 14, 2004 - 4:32 pm:

Whoops, sorry about my first paragraph. I posted that part on the wrong thread.

By Anonymous on Saturday, May 1, 1999 - 10:16 am:

I have a 4 month old baby boy, and I have to take him to the Hoken-jo for his 4-month check-up and BCG immunization for TB. I'm from the US where BCGs aren't even offered, and I was wondering what all the other Parents were doing. How are you having your babies vaccinated?

Also, in April's Parents magazine it stated that the APA were going to recommend only Polio Injections in a few years. Here in Japan, only oral polio vaccinations are given, and only in Spring and Fall. So my child will be 11 months old before he'll get his first dose. In the US, the polio vaccine is recommended at 2 mos. and 4 mos.!

Any advice?

By Scotth on Thursday, October 14, 2004 - 4:57 pm:

Moved chat about tissues, etc. to new sub-topic of "Sanitation & Garbage".

Thank you very much, Yuko. But, be aware the Japanese characters don't seem to come across on English OS. (Or, might be board software).

Asst. Admin.

By Steve on Wednesday, November 10, 2004 - 7:22 pm:

Hi everyone,

We live in Sendagi in Bunkyo-ku
and our 4-month old son is just
about ready to start his
scheduled vaccinations.

The first seems to be the
dreaded 9-prick BCG vaccination.
We are a bit worried about the
possible link to autism but are
just as worried about not
receiving the shot and
contracting tuberculosis. Can
anyone shed light on the balance
between these two choices?

Also, does anyone know of an
alternative to the 9-prick jab?
It'd be nice to be able to avoid
any potential lasting marks.

If anyone can recommend where to
receive the shots in Bunkyo-ku,
that would be a great help to us

We feel like we are heading out
on a tightrope walk with the
health of our child in the
balance. A little scared to make
a final decision either way.

By Suzanne Noetzel on Friday, November 19, 2004 - 3:09 pm:

Steve, I'm not sure of your nationality. But if you are American or planning on living in the US with your child, you may want to skip the BCG vaccine.

In order to enter school in the US you have to have a TB test and if your child were to receive the BCG vaccine here, the test would always be positive. Which would mean further blood tests for your child.

I have 2 children and neither of them are vaccinated against TB and I was told to avoid this test while in Japan for the reason I mentioned above.

I'm not sure of the policy for other countries, but if you are not Japanese, you may want to check with a peditrician in your home country.

Immunizations are a scary process, just take it slow and find a doctor who you can talk to, as well as trust. It'll make a huge difference when facing decisions regarding your child's health care. Hope that was useful. Suzanne

By Sherri Leibert on Saturday, November 20, 2004 - 3:52 am:

Yes, Suzanne what you wrote is true. We have recently returned to the States. Both of my children had the BCG in Japan. At the time I thought it was for the best. I still think that it was the right decision even though it is causing us some hassle now. I researched it and found that there is a strain of TB that only affects very young children which is deadly and that strain is hanging around in Japan. If you plan to spend your baby's first year or so in Japan, have a talk to your pediatrician in Japan about the reasons for this jab and decide for yourself.

However now that we are in the States it is one big hassle. Everyone has to take a TB test for one reason or another. I even had to take one before being allowed to teach adults in a community college. My son (aged 15 months) had to take one to be allowed to stay with a state-registered baby sitter just one day a month. My daughter needed one to go to kindergarden.

My son't test came out positive (it will for 5 years after the BCG). Despite warning the nurse at our clinic and bringing documentation, they still interpreted the result as needing medication for TB. He was given an x-ray of his chest to see if it was active (fair enough) but then they prescribed medicine for him to take every day for about 9 months. After all that I finally got the letter saying he was TB free and on medication. I have decided not to give him the medication since I don't believe he has TB and I don't like the idea of giving him medicine for no clear reason. This issue is not over for us and I will have to talk to my son's doctor about it in more depth.

Anyway I hope this is useful to parents who are considering the BCG and who may live in the US within 5 years of the jab.

By Steve Ballati on Monday, November 22, 2004 - 2:25 pm:

Iona, Suzanne and Sherri,
Thank you for sharing your views and experiences. All of your comments have been extremely helpful.

In the end, we decided to receive the BCG shot. The point that we could not reconcile is the potentially deadly TB strain that affects very young children. We plan to be in Japan for several more years and decided that we would want whatever protection possible during this time when our baby would be at the highest risk of contracting the most dangerous strain and that this outweighed the repetitive blood tests we can expect when we move to the states (Northern California). If we were in the US or our baby was older, we probably would have come to a different conclusion.

Thank you all so much, Steve

By Suzanne on Monday, November 22, 2004 - 7:24 pm:

Steve & Sheri,

I haven't heard about the deadly strain of
TB here in Japan. We've only been here for
1 month. We have two daughters, a 3 year
old and a 1 year old. Could you tell me
more about this? We will be in the US in
December and have an appointment with
our pediatrician and would like to discuss
this with her.


By Steve B on Monday, November 22, 2004 - 10:59 pm:

I did not actually find specific information about a particular strain per se, but did find sites and sources that link tuberculosis to meningitis on top of potential complications from TB that can have lifelong repercussions. This, coupled with statements that TB is on the rise again worldwide and some specific mentions of Asia, led to our decision.

A few representative Japan-related comments from various web sites follow. I do not vouch for the reliability of their details, but take them to at least indicate areas of concern.

"Overall tuberculosis incidence in Japan is higher than that of other developed countries. Trend of decline in tuberculosis incidence is similar to that of the countries where universal BCG vaccination has never been implemented."

"The Center for TB Prevention recommends you get tested if...
you are from a country or have visited a country where TB is common (That includes most of Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, and Asia **except** Japan) " [We travel to or have relatives in these regions.]

"Japan: Tuberculosis-related mortality rate...
The total number of deaths caused by tuberculosis per 100,000 people...54 (2001)"

We found quotes and comments that could support either decision of taking or not taking the shots in Japan. We chose the course that we thought would give us more peace of mind.


By Suzanne on Friday, November 26, 2004 - 9:08 am:

Thanks for the information. I guess I should do more research, so I can discuss it with our pediatrician in the US while we're home in Dec.
Another vaccination decision to make...

By Indo mommy on Friday, November 26, 2004 - 2:40 pm:

hello all,

any information about the chicken pox vaccination? I am (maybe unduly) apprehensive about giving my daughter any vaccinations here in Japan. We have followed our home country system thru and thru.

Would appreciate if could get some comments on the chickenpox vaccination.

By Sally Tominaga on Wednesday, December 8, 2004 - 7:57 am:

could somebody pls confirm that the japanese hospitals/clinics don`t offer the combined mmr is done over three weeks with three seperate daughter is due for her 4 month shots. thankyou.

By Victoria Morehouse on Wednesday, December 8, 2004 - 8:55 am:


You are correct. The Japanese immunization system requires many more shots than in other countries. I inquired about this once before and the response was that the vaccinations given in Japan are more pure... such as two doses of oral polio rather than combining it with other vaccinations in a single shot. If your child has already gotten the MMR shot, it will be accepted in Japan (for school entrance purposes) but if not, she will have to do all three separately. For the other way around, if she hasn't completed all three and you go back to your home country, she will have to get the whole MMR shot again.

By Kim Ellison on Thursday, December 9, 2004 - 6:14 pm:

I'm from the UK and there was a big scare with the MMR vaccine related to Autism (although it's still uncertain) but it made a lot of parents seek the single vaccines paying up to £100 a go and travelling half the country to wait in line to see a handful of Doctors prepared to give the vaccines in single doses. I came to Japan and paid 6000yen for the measles vaccine.

There are some parents who are going natural and actually exposing their children to the measles virus. So if you are going back to the UK there is no compulsory vaccination schedule. It's up to you as a parent to decide. I haven't given my daughter the mumps or Rubella vaccine. But will seek the Rubella vaccine before she is able to have children herself. I also read that the second booster shot of MMR in the UK is just a precaution. In Japan they don't do the second MMR.

Confusing huh! but I would like to hear from anyone if they have more info about the MMR and BCG vaccines and their decisions.

By Kelly Wang on Saturday, February 5, 2005 - 8:31 am:

Questions on immunization for infants:

My daughter will be 3 months old when I will move to Japan this March. I wonder if I could find a way to continue her vaccine series in Tokyo based on an U.S. schedule. She just got her first doses of DTaP, Polio, HIB and Pneumo. conj. and should get the second doses in April and the nex in June, when I will be in Tokyo. If it is impossible to get the same vaccine, I will have to fly back to U.S. or wait the shots to be given in July. I am not sure which way is the best. If anyone has a similar experience, or know anything about this, I would greatly appreciate your advice. Thanks a lot!


By Franklin Lore on Sunday, May 22, 2005 - 7:05 pm:


I looked for the answer but might have
missed it..

My five month old daughter is due to get
her BCG shot soon here in Japan. I've
noticed some kids in Japan still have the
scar from, I think, this shot. Is there a
reason these shots scar here, but not
where I'm from (States)? Is there a certain
clinic where these shots do not scar? I've
heard the BCG shots that don't scar are
very expensive..

Thank you in advance for any

Papa abroad

By Sherri Leibert on Monday, May 23, 2005 - 8:55 am:

Hi Papa Abroad
The reason why you don't see the BCG marks on kids in the States is because kids don't get the BCG in the States.

Both of my kids had the BCG in Japan and on both (daughter aged 4 and son nearly 2) I can't see the mark anymore.

See my post above for the hassles you can expect if you give you daughter the BCG in Japan and then return to the States within the next 5 years. Oh and as far as I remember, you should not have to pay for the BCG.


By Julie Hansberry on Monday, May 23, 2005 - 11:44 am:

My boys had this vaccine in Bangkok and the Dr. gave it to them on their buttocks to avoid having a scar on their arm.

By Tia Tanaka on Thursday, September 22, 2005 - 1:28 pm:


My little one (1 year 2 months old) is due for her MMR shot. I am married to a Japanese and am now living in Japan. Because our baby was born in my own home country, we have followed the immunization schedule of my own country so far. However, we are uncertain as to whether in future she will have schooling here in Japan or back home. Anway, back to the question here, although we don`t mind having the shots here in Japan, we are not sure it is advisable to have it here or back home.

The reason being here it is done separately, the measles and rubella. Whereas back home, it is all in one, the MMR. Here the measles and rubella shots can be obtained free, but we don`t mind paying for the MMR back home. We like to know whether if the MMR has any side effects? Also, once this shot (the MMR or the current Japanese ones) is/are taken, are boosters needed in later years? If that is necessary, then we have to consider that too, as I believe it is necessary to get back the booster of the same brand. Any opinion or discussion on this very much appreciated.


By Angela Turzynski-Azimi on Thursday, September 22, 2005 - 2:10 pm:

On this subject, my son was born in Australia and has been immunized according to government recommendations in that country. His Immunisation History Statement indicates that he is due for booster shots for polio, DTP and MMR on his 4th birthday, which is coming up. Our local Japanese paediatrician (in Chiba) says he does not need the boosters. I would prefer to follow the Australian system and wonder if it is possible to get these booster shots done in Japan. Can anyone advise me on this?

By Amitto on Thursday, September 22, 2005 - 4:56 pm:

Hi Angela
you can get these shots in Japan too.
I checked with my local paediatrician and he gave the shots as it is not covered in the insurence, it is required to pay in full amount for it.
It may require to make prior reservation as they get it sply for you.
Also there are clinincs in Shibua and few other places in Tokyo who gave all international shots.

By on Wednesday, November 2, 2005 - 7:53 am:

Hello all,
I have a Japanese friend who has been living for two years in the States. Her baby is born there and got his first polio immunization (by shot) there. Since she is back, the baby got an oral immunization here in Japan, and now she is wondering how to continue with polio immunization; some doctors say, her son (now 18 months old) needs a second oral administration, others say that would be too much. Is there anybody having some experience with this?
Thanks in advance,

By Ava on Wednesday, November 2, 2005 - 8:18 am:

child immunizations...

hi, polio vaccine is given 2x and normally it is given per oral. ask your friend if she is sure that it is really polio but it could be polio incorporated with another vaccine. the best thing to do is to call her US doctor and ask about it... Japanese doctors cant decide pretty much on it i guess.But you can try explaining it to the doctors here and you can show your child's vaccine book.. with the vaccine name and the dose given they can figure it out somehow...

By Vr25 on Thursday, May 1, 2008 - 2:09 pm:

Does anybody know when is the polio campaign in (Gyotoku) Chiba & in Kawasaki (Kanagawa).

By Missesg on Monday, January 21, 2013 - 11:09 pm:

In the US if you write to your congressman about not having to vaccinate your children you can get a form which will allow them to attend a school with out them. I was wondering if there was something like that here in Japan.
I understand how people feel about vaccines and I think they are safer now but my daughter hasn't received any vaccinations and she seems to be more resilient to sickness compared to most children her age.
I think I can count about 7-9 times since she was born that she's had a fever or any type of sickness. Also seeing the rise of kids with autism and medical links to vaccinations I would prefer if my daughter can remain vaccine free.

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