Women's Health

Hepatitus B Vaccine

The recent media blitz regarding school children and Hepatitis B vaccine is of extreme concern to me.

Hepatitis B vaccine is mandatory before registering your 7th grader in school. (For those of you who are unaware, Hepatitis B vaccine is also administered in the hospital to newborns.) What you didn't hear is that, in California, you can request a waiver based upon personal conscience and belief.

Even more importantly, no one is publicizing the controversy surrounding this vaccine. Recently, the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (MPS), an independent organization representing more than 4,000 medical doctors, recommended an immediate moratorium on mandatory Hepatitis B vaccinations for school children pending further research about possible dangerous side effects.

In the first place, Hepatitis B represents a health risk to only certain high risk populations: those who are sexually promiscuous; people who, at work, have contact with human blood; and intravenous drug users who commonly share needles. Hemophiliacs, who receive blood factors via transfusion and babies whose mother is infected are also at risk. Hepatitis B cannot be spread by casual contact, through food, or water.

In 1998, according to the New York Times, France suspended Hepatitis B vaccines for schoolchildren due to fears that the vaccines were causing multiple sclerosis and other neurological disorders. In March of 1999, the World Health Organization issued a follow-up report stating that the vaccination program had been discontinued, with no current plan to reinstate it.

In the US, the National Vaccine Information Center, a parent group based in Washington, DC, issued a report that of the millions of children born in the U.S. between July 1, 1990 and October 31, 1998, a total of 24,775 adverse events, including 439 deaths were allegedly linked to the vaccine. The raw data links the vaccine to long-term multiple sclerosis-like symptoms, including joint pain and cognitive problems. The FDA, of course, disputes these findings.

In June, Dr. Jane Orient, executive director of AAPS, testified before Congress and called for an immediate halt to the vaccine. The AAPS is attempting to publicize the fact that, based upon data taken from the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System that children younger than 14 are three times more likely to die or suffer adverse reactions after receiving Hepatitis B vaccines than to catch the disease.

It is the position of the AAPS that the process of mandating vaccines is riddled with special interest groups and "incestuous ties with agencies that stand to gain power." Further, the AAPS makes the case that school districts which require vaccination are practicing medicine without a license.

If you want to be proactive, here are some actions you can take: if you live in California and are currently pregnant or have school age children, you can avail yourself of the waiver provision in California law to protect your children from this potentially dangerous and unnecessary procedure. In other states, you will have to check your local regulations. Check directly with the school board, asking if they have a waiver based upon personal beliefs (it is a First Amendment exception). Furthermore, if you feel strongly about this issue, contact your Congressmen and Senators (federal and local), informing them of your dismay that medical decisions are being taken out of the hands of parents.

Does this apply to you? If so, see our information on Consultations.