Parents have often asked me about the advisability of Hepatitis B Vaccine
for their children. In general, for any vaccine, the following criteria
should be applied:

  • Is the disease serious enough to warrant prevention? In the case of
    Hepatitis B, the answer is a clear ‘yes’. In the case of chickenpox,
    for example, it seems more questionable.
  • Can the disease be effectively treated? If so, the effort to prevent
    it may not be needed. In the case of Hepatitis B, there is no good treatment
    by orthodox means.
  • Is the immunization effective? This has, for many vaccines, always
    been questionable, as most of the infectious diseases were on the decline
    because of public health measures like adequate nutrition and hygiene.
    In the case of Hepatitis B vaccine, I think that we can assume that
    an adequately immunized person exposed to hepatitis B virus will not
    develop the illness.
  • Is the immunization safe (and if not, is it safer than the disease,
    also considering one’s risk of developing the disease)?

Initial testing of the vaccine by the manufacturer indicated that the
vaccine was “safe.” The government monitors the safety of vaccines
partially through a reporting system known as VAERS (Vaccine Adverse Event
Reporting System). One of the problems with such systems is that events
are drastically underreported. A former commissioner of the Food and Drug
Administration (FDA) wrote in a prestigious medical Journal in 1993 that
“only about 1% of serious events” attributable to drug reactions
are reported to the FDA. Other polls and studies have also indicated a
very poor rate of reporting. On the other side of the coin, a report to
VAERS does not prove that a vaccine had a causal relationship to the event
reported.

The National Vaccine Information Center,
an independent group which monitors the adverse effects of vaccines, and
which in general (in my opinion) is clearly at odds with the government
and drug companies in these matters, has analyzed the data from the VAERS
for 1996 and 1997. Their analysis is alarming:

  • In 1996, there were 872 serious adverse events reported to VAERS
    in children under the age of 14 after receiving Hepatitis B vaccine.
    (Serious adverse events means that the children were either taken
    to the hospital emergency room, had life threatening health problems,
    were hospitalized or were left disabled following vaccination.)
  • 214 of the children had received Hepatitis B vaccine alone and the
    rest received it in combination with other vaccines.
  • In addition, 48 children were reported to have died after vaccination
    with Hepatitis B, and 13 of these had received Hepatitis B vaccine
    only.
  • In 1996, only 279 cases of hepatitis were reported in children under
    the age of 14.
  • Simlar data apply to other time periods, and a more complete report
    can be accessed at the NVIC website.
  • The following statement, appearing in the source for this discussion
    (see below), is referenced to the statement of Dr. Jane Orient of
    the Committee on Government Reform of the U.S. House of Representatives,
    June 14, 1999, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and
    FDA statistics in their VAERS database: The death rate from
    the disease hepatitis B for unvaccinated children is about .0000005;
    deaths immediately after hepatitis B vaccination are about .000006,
    i.e. 120 time higher.
  • Some, perhaps much of the toxicity of Hepatitis B vaccine (and many
    other vaccines, is associated with Thiomersal, a mercury containing
    chemical used to stabilize and preseve the vaccine for storage.) Those
    interested in learning more about this can consult Dr.
    Mercola’s website.
    Generally speaking, most vaccines contain thiomersal,
    and the more vaccine you receive, the bigger the dose. Mercury is
    acutely toxic and also accumulates in the body, exerting a continuing
    toxicity.

Hepatitis B is a viral illness contracted through exposure
to bodily fluids, primarily through intravenous drug use with contaminated
needles, or through sexual contact with an infected person.

Infants born to infected mothers are obviously at risk (thus the
desirability of screening pregnant women for the disease). Other groups
at high risk are intravenous drug users, promiscuous homo- and heterosexuals
and prostitutes. There is a relatively high percentage of Hepatitis
B in the institutionalized populations (including the mentally retarded,
etc.) and so workers in those institutions may also be at risk.

On the other side of the risk benefit equation, it is only
fair to say that those who contract Hepatitis B are at risk for severe
chronic disease, liver cancer, and death from the hepatitis B disease.
I don’t have the relevant statistics to “balance” the equation.
It may be, that if you factor in the problems from the disease would
“justify” the risks from the vaccine that I have discussed
above.

Thanks to the Townsend Letter
for Doctors and Patients
, August-Sept. 2000, for portions of the
above report.

Readers may also wish to go the the following website: http://www.nccn.net/~wwithin/vaccine.htm
and follow the links to Hepatitis B Vaccine, particularly the following:
http://www.nccn.net/~wwithin/belkin.pdf
for further information regarding this vaccine.