FACT CHECK: Viral Post Misstates Facts About Infant Mortality And Vaccines In Japan And US
An image shared on Facebook alleges Japan has the lowest infant mortality rate while the U.S. has the highest and suggests vaccines play a role in the difference.
Japan has one of the highest rates of childhood vaccination in the world and has the third-lowest infant mortality rate among developed countries. The U.S. has the eleventh-highest infant mortality rate among developed countries, according to data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
The Facebook image attempts to compare infant mortality rates and vaccine practices in the U.S. and Japan. It claims that Japan does not vaccinate children under the age of two and has the lowest infant mortality rate while the U.S. “has the highest Infant Death Rate and gives 28 doses of vaccines by age 2!”
These claims are inaccurate. While Japan does not have any compulsory vaccine laws, according to the Associated Press, nearly all children in Japan are vaccinated against certain diseases. The World Health Organization reports that 96 percent of 1-year-olds in Japan are vaccinated against diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis, one of the highest rates of vaccination in the world. Data from the OECD shows that 97 percent of children in Japan were vaccinated against measles as of 2018.
Japan’s National Institute of Infectious Diseases and the country’s Pediatric Society recommend infants start receiving certain vaccines before the age of two. An average two-year-old in Japan is vaccinated against at least a dozen diseases, according to the vaccination schedule from the country’s pediatric society. (RELATED: Was Martha Washington Vaccinated For Smallpox?)
The image’s claims regarding infant mortality rates are also incorrect. Japan has the third-lowest infant mortality rate among developed countries, behind Estonia and Iceland, with 1.9 deaths per 1,000 births, according to the OECD. The U.S. infant mortality rate is higher than Japan’s, with 5.7 deaths per 1,000 births, but behind other countries including India, Brazil and China, the organization reports.
The U.S. does indeed recommend dozens of vaccine doses for children under the age of two, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.