Let’s face it, vaccinations are a crap shoot just like life. We’re just playing the odds – either you risk your child catching a potentially deadly disease or she may contract a rare and just as horrific side effect from the vaccination. Either way, you’re taking a chance. I'm a parent, just like you, and there's no PHD attached to the end of my name either. That doesn't mean I'm not curious and anxious about my child's health. I myself have two children, ages five years and five weeks old. The oldest, my son, has been thoroughly vaccinated with all the necessary shots - or at least what my state has decided is necessary - except for the chicken pox vaccine. I’m still struggling with the decision as to whether my son will ever get his chicken pox vaccine and which vaccinations my daughter will get… if any. To be clear, though, I am not anti-vaccine. I’m pro-education. Vaccinating is a decision every parent must make and all we can do is learn as much as we can and make a decision that we can live with. This is what I’ve found during my research…
What is Hepatitis B (HBV)?
Hepatitis B is primarily a blood-born adult disease that attacks the liver and will eventually lead to death. Hepatitis, in its early stages, may cause flu-like symptoms, including malaise (a general ill feeling), fever, muscle aches, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and jaundice. IV drug users and people of multiple sex partners are at the highest risk of contracting HBV. There are 150 million people with HBV and 1125 new cases have been reported to the CDC in the United States so far this year alone. Those infected that have chronic hepatitis will eventually get liver cancer or cirrhosis of the liver and both are fatal over time. There is no cure for chronic hepatitis b. Children infected before the age of five are at a much higher risk of getting chronic hepatitis b.
The Vaccine… recommended at birth, at 1 to 4 months, and again at 6 to 18 months.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) made a recommendation in 1991 that all infants receive the first dose of the Hepatitis B vaccine before leaving the hospital. This is a decision that the ACIP still upholds even though there was “No scientific research done regarding the effects the Hepatitis B could have on infants” before they made the recommendation. To make it still more confusing, the ACIP still supports this decision even after Samuel L. Katz, who instituted the policy when he was ACIP chairman in 1991, made this statement: “The results of this uncontrolled experiment are in: upwards of 36,000 adverse reactions and more than 440 deaths, according to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS).” For more on Katz and VAERS, check out this article from Mothering Magazine: Show us the Science.
Bonnie Dunbar, PhD, a professor of molecular and cell biology at Bayor College of Medicine in Houston, has spent her 25-year career in new vaccine development. She claims that, in 1998, worldwide sales of the Hepatitis B vaccine totaled $2 billion dollars. Well, it’s a moneymaker that’s for sure, but is it necessary for our children and, if so, why are we giving it to them so young? I took this question to the CDC and the Federal Drug and Food Administration (FDA) and was informed that “Except for infants born to mothers with this infection, children are not at great risk of developing hepatitis B, but health-care workers, homosexuals, and intravenous drug users are. Attempts to vaccinate adults have been largely unsuccessful, however. It's easier to reach children because school enrollment requires immunization. Therefore, for lifelong protection, the CDC has recommended that all infants be vaccinated before 15 months of age in three doses.” In other words, like all immunizations, they’ve scheduled Hepatitis b into you child’s life at the most convenient time in order to be beneficial to the most people. This sort of system really doesn’t take into consideration your own child’s needs at all.Weighing the risks of the hepatitis-B vaccine…
According to Mothering Magazine, “physicians reported 54 cases of hepatitis B in infants to the CDC in 1996, while VAERS received 1,080 reports of adverse reactions and 47 deaths in infants. Since adverse reaction reporting to VAERS isn't mandatory, the FDA estimates that these figures represent only 1 to 10 percent of such events.”
Another worry parents have about the hep-B vaccine is its possible mercury content. The CDC assures us that, since 1999, all thermosal (mercury) has been removed from children’s vaccines, with the exception of some flu vaccines. However, all parents are still approached by pediatricians with the hepatitis b vaccine within the first months of an infant’s life and parents aren’t usually fully informed about this vaccine,
the reasoning behind its administration, and its possible side effects. Here’s what you should know:
- Possible Adverse Reactions to the Hepatitis B vaccine: fever, irritation on the site of injection, Anaphylaxis or anaphylactic shock, and even death.
- People Who Should Not Get this Vaccine: Anyone who is allergic to Baker’s yeast or who has a compromised immune system because of chronic disease or illness. If you or your children have the flu or a cold when they’re scheduled to get any immunization, talk to your doctor about postponing it until everyone is completely recovered.
What if something goes wrong?
In the event your child has a vaccine-associated injury, or even if you think a vaccine might have caused a medical problem your child has, you should report the problem to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System. Even if you are unsure if the reactions are caused by the vaccine it's still important to report it to Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System. The more information given to them the better...one of the purposes of VAERS is to help researchers identify unknown side effects, or even to show that some reactions are not caused by vaccines.
You can also report a vaccine reaction to Vaccine Adverse Event Reaction System yourself. The toll-free information line is 1-800-822-7967. The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program is a federal program that offers compensation for the care of anyone believed to have been injured by vaccines. For more information, you can call the program toll-free at 1-800-338-2382.The most important question of our time...
As with any type of health related issue, there is a lot of conflict and heated debate on the subject of vaccinations. I would expect nothing less when our children’s health is the topic of discussion! Unfortunately, parents should be able to trust the initialed committees and associations that are specifically established to do the research and let the public know what is in the best interest of children and, dare I say it… in the best interest of society. However, that isn’t always the case when there’s money involved, and there are billions of dollars involved in vaccinations. Don’t kid yourself, there are drug companies tripping over each other to be able to provide countries with necessary vaccinations, and many are very necessary. The most important and still unanswered question of our time is - which vaccinations are necessary and which aren’t worth the risk of the potentially horrific side effects? Will parents and doctors be able to sift through all of the information and propaganda to find the answer? If so, will it happen in my child’s lifetime?
Still have questions?
Call the CDC National Immunization Hotline at: (800) 232-2522. This is a government funded organization that’s full of information and you can ask any vaccine question you can think of. Write down your questions and call as much as you need to. If the first person you talk to can’t answer your question, then ask them who can. They’re up-to-date with all the latest news and headlines. These are our tax dollars at work here so feel free to use them!
- CDC's National Immunization Program
- Vaccine Adverse Event Reaction System 1-800-822-7967
- FDA - 1-800-835-4709 & 1-888-463-6332
- Search the FDA website
- Think Twice
- Kids Health
- Mothering Magazine
There is a lot of conflicting information about vaccinations these days and everyone seems to have a different oppinion! I did my best to look for all sides of the story but, please remember that I'm not a doctor and nothing in this article should ever be taken as a replacement for true medical advice from your pediatrician. Keep good communication with your child's doctor and keep in mind that no matter what the question is... it's always worth asking.
Want to know more about vaccines?
Look in our Health & Safety Archives.