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A Japanese government panel will discuss whether to resume actively recommending vaccinations against the human papillomavirus, or HPV, health minister Norihisa Tamura said Friday. HPV is the main cause of cervical cancer.

A panel of experts that advises the health ministry will start the discussions in early October, Tamura said.

Resuming the active promotion of HPV vaccinations in fiscal 2022, which starts next April, is “possible,” he said.

In April 2013, the country introduced an HPV vaccination program targeting elementary school sixth-graders to high school first-graders.

But the ministry stopped recommending the vaccinations in June the same year after a number of recipients developed body aches and other side effects.

In Japan, about 2,800 women die every year from cervical cancer, according to the ministry.

As a result, ruling coalition lawmakers and doctors’ groups have been urging the ministry to resume the active promotion of HPV vaccinations.

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