When I had my three children in the 1980s, I never questioned the vaccines my pediatrician gave to my babies. I can’t remember being asked if I approved or consented, but, in any case, I followed all the recommendations. It was just my children’s luck, I guess, that many fewer vaccines were recommended then than are today in the US. When we were children, my sister and I were vaccinated for smallpox and measles–that’s it! How did we survive without all of these so-called miraculous modern vaccines? Now that I have been doing some research into vaccines, it’s hard for me to believe that I never even questioned the premise that all vaccines were beneficial, effective, and safe.
The vaccine I’ve been reading about just now is the hepatitis B vaccine, which is routinely injected into babies just a few hours after birth.
Why I wrote this post!
I became especially interested in the hepatitis B vaccine after reading Jonathan’s Story, the sad account of a Texas child, Jonathan Carrington, seriously injured by the vaccine which he was given just after being born in 1997. Jonathan’s mother had wanted very much to do everything right during pregnancy to ensure good health for her baby, her first child. She followed the Bradley method in preparing for childbirth. This meant a lot to me, since my husband and I also used the Bradley method for the births of all three of our children. Bradley includes exercise, a healthy diet, and encourages no anesthetic use during childbirth. It’s all about doing the best for the baby and avoiding harm.
Jonathan’s mother thought she had researched all the options and even had a written Birth Plan that she got her ob/gyn to sign, but she had not heard about the hepatitis B vaccine being given to newborns and wasn’t prepared for the hospital vaccination. The vaccine was given to Jonathan without her knowledge or permission, and only just as they were leaving the hospital the hospital staff asked them to sign a consent form. She admits her husband did sign the consent form, because they were told ‘everyone gets one’ and besides it had already been given to Jonathan. There was no longer any choice. There were serious reactions after the initial injection at birth; however, Jonathan’s doctor did not associate the symptoms with the vaccination and Jonathon was given a second dose of the vaccine at two months. The consequences of the vaccinations were horrible for Jonathan and his family.
Today Jonathan is permanently damaged and requires constant care. He will never be able to live on his own. By the way, Jonathan’s mother was tested for hepatitis B throughout her pregnancy and was always negative. I know this is just one case and that proponents of vaccination will insist that the cause of this damage isn’t proven and/or that, in any case, the resulting ‘herd immunity’ is worth occasional damage. Was Jonathan’s injury acceptable occasional damage? What this story did was motivate me to look more closely at this particular vaccine. Here’s what I found:
What is hepatitis B?
Hepatitis B is an inflammation of the liver caused by infection with the hepatitis B virus. Most mandated vaccinations are for highly infectious childhood diseases; however, hepatitis B is not common in childhood and is not highly contagious. According to the CDC, the incidence of hepatitis B has been declining for many years due primarily to a decrease in the number of cases among drug users. The annual number of cases fell from over 18,000 in 1991 to almost 11,000 in 1996. The CDC chart at the right shows the continuing decrease in the number of cases to less than 5,000 in 2010.
How is it spread?
Hepatitis B is primarily an adult disease spread through unprotected sex, contaminated needles, and blood transfusions, but, although uncommon in the US, it can be acquired from the mother during birth. The most common sources of infection in the US are intravenous drug use and heterosexual or homosexual activity with an infected person. Although there is a greater risk to babies born in areas of high infection rates, the US is not one of the high risk areas. So why was Jonathan vaccinated against hepatitis B? Just why was Jonathan given the vaccine when he had almost no chance of contracting the virus? Which of these situations or risk factors applied to him? Could the answer be “None,” but he was given the vaccination anyway? There really was only one possible method of infection for Jonathan–from his mother during the birth process–but he could be infected by his mother only if she already had hepatitis B, and Jonathan’s mother tested negative throughout her pregnancy. Although the CDC claims that testing errors could allow an infected mother to pass hepatitis B to her baby, the likelihood of such an incident must be very, very low. It seems possible that the principal reason for the CDC’s recommendation to give the first injection immediately after birth during the hospital stay is that “initiating the Hepatitis B vaccine series at birth has been shown to increase a child’s likelihood of completing the vaccine series on schedule.” There was no justifiable reason to give Jonathan the vaccine.
What are the symptoms and complications of hepatitis B?
Symptoms of hepatitis B include nausea and vomiting, appetite loss, fatigue, low-grade fever, joint swelling and pain, headache, cough, and yellow skin due to jaundice. Enlargement and tenderness of the liver may last up to three or four weeks. Fatigue can last up to a year. Most who contract hepatitis B as an adult recover completely and acquire life-long immunity. Many people may have few or no symptoms. Among those who do not recover completely, about 5% develop chronic hepatitis and may develop liver damage and cirrhosis of the liver. The death rate for people infected with hepatitis B is about 1%. While it is true that the risk of developing complications is greater for newborns–about 90% of newborns (infected from their mothers at birth) who become infected with hepatitis B develop chronic hepatitis, only 1-3% of total cases of hepatitis B are in infants and that accounts for 20-30% of the chronic infections.
What is the hepatitis vaccine and who should get it?
The vaccine in use today is a recombinant vaccine, i.e., genetically engineered, produced by inserting the hepatitis B (virus) gene into common baker’s yeast. Earlier versions of the vaccine included mercury, thimerisol, as an adjuvant; however, the currently used versions contain aluminum, “a heavy metal with known neurotoxic effects on human and animal nervous systems.” Some common brands of the vaccine are Recombivax HB® (Merck) and Engerix-B® (GlaxoSmithKline). The vaccine is recommended for babies born to mothers known to be infected with hepatitis B and to mothers whose hepatitis B infection status is unknown. The real problem occurs with the CDC‘s extended recommendation that the vaccine be given to every newborn [whether they are at risk or not], the first dose of the vaccine at birth, the second at one to two months, and the third by 18 months.
How effective is the vaccine?
There is no proof that the hepatitis B vaccine confers lifetime immunity as does recovery from being infected with hepatitis B. In fact, many sources estimate effectiveness of the vaccine to last 10 to 20 years, but some say it’s effective for as few as 5 years. Since hepatitis B antigen levels are known to decrease over time, those who claim that the vaccine provides indefinite protection believe that “long-term immunity derives from immunological memory which outlasts the loss of antibody levels . . .” It is recommended that healthcare workers get a booster shot after 5 years. So have we found a good reason for Jonathan to be vaccinated with the hepatitis B vaccine? Let’s look at the risks from receiving the vaccine.
Adverse reactions from hepatitis B vaccine
The most common side effects are soreness and redness at the injection site. Somewhat less common reactions (although many are reported) include dizziness, headache, hypersensitivity, gastrointestinal disturbances (diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain), rash or itching, abnormal liver function, painful muscles or joints, fatigue, fever, and cold or flu-like symptoms. Other very rare reactions are swollen glands, anaphylaxis or other allergic reactions, blood problems, fainting, nerve problems, convulsions, and low blood pressure.
More than one study has found a tripled risk of autism spectrum disorder for baby boys given the hepatitis B vaccine. Even more interesting: “There are more reports of serious adverse reactions in children than there are cases of childhood hepatitis B reported in the United States!“ Why should all newborns be injected with this vaccine?
Adverse reactions to vaccines are voluntarily reported to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). Routine vaccination of newborns with hepatitis B vaccine began in 1991, and between 1992 and 2005, there were 36,788 official reports of adverse reactions. “Of these, 14,800 were serious enough to cause hospitalization, life-threatening health events or permanent disabilities.” There were 781 reports of death after hepatitis B vaccination, which may be understated because many doctors are reluctant to report possible reactions to vaccinations and also because many people don’t recognize the symptoms of a vaccine reaction. For example, deaths of most babies that die after receiving the vaccine, are reported as SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) without a close look at the possible relationship to the vaccination. One example of the use of this diagnosis is Lyla Rose Belkin who died September 16, 1998, at the age of five weeks, shortly after receiving a booster shot of hepatitis B vaccine. The only abnormal finding from the autopsy was a swollen brain–the death was labeled SIDS. She had never been sick before in her short life.
Why is hepatitis vaccine recommended for newborns?
As I mentioned above, the risk of hepatitis B complications for newborns is greater since about 90% of babies who are infected by their mothers during birth develop chronic hepatitis, but are all children equally at risk of contracting hepatitis B? If a pregnant mother tests negative for the virus, what is the risk? As I also said above, given the complication rate for newborns that contract hepatitis B, it might be worthwhile to vaccinate all newborns, but only if there is little or no risk of adverse reactions. However, there is significant risk of serious reactions and even death. Since most babies and children in the US are not at high risk, there is no justification for these risks. Most people who contract hepatitis B as an adult recover without complications.
Who really benefits from the hepatitis B vaccine mandate?
The principal beneficiaries of the hepatitis vaccine mandate for newborns (yes, that’s every baby born in the US and other countries) are the manufacturers of the vaccine, Merck, GlaxoSmithKline, et. al, along with the physicians and hospitals who are paid fees for administering it. The mandate is three doses for every baby born in the US, and, if somehow you escaped the vaccine at birth, the CDC says you should be vaccinated as soon as possible.
So did I find a good reason (or any reason, for that matter) to vaccinate Jonathan for hepatitis B? No, I didn’t find any good reason to vaccinate Jonathan, and here’s why–(1) it was well-known from testing during pregnancy that Jonathan’s mother did not have hepatitis B; (2) Jonathan was not at risk for contracting hepatitis B in any of the usual ways, and (3) he didn’t live in a high risk area. In fact, it was extremely unlikely that Jonathan would ever be infected with hepatitis B, but especially not as a young child. The high complication rate for infected newborns might justify giving the vaccine to all newborns living in a high risk area, but only if the adverse reactions are rare and mild. The adverse reactions are not nearly rare and mild enough to justify the risk of damage and death! We can see that clearly from the permanent crippling of Jonathan Carrington and the death of Lyla Rose Belkin. There are thousands of incidents of adverse reactions to hepatitis B vaccinations just based on the cases voluntarily reported in the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting system, and there are likely thousands more that have gone unreported.
My acceptance of the value of vaccines was so strong, that, even now, I still keep expecting/hoping to find one that really does help save lives. Since this is only the second vaccine that I have really looked into, I still have a chance to find such a vaccine. [The first one I wrote about was the HPV vaccine.] Well, let me just say that I didn’t find my safe and effective vaccine today . . . so I guess I have to keep on looking.
What should you do if you are pregnant or plan to have children?
Based on what I’ve learned, I would not allow my child to be injected with the hepatitis B vaccine, but you must decide for yourself whether or not to allow your baby to be given the vaccine. To make your decision, you must be fully informed of the risks and benefits. First read Jonathan’s Story and then read Lyla Rose Belkin’s story. You should then read any or all of the source articles listed below. You should also do your own research on the internet or in a library from a variety of sources.
Important update, September 13, 2012
HepB Vaccine Causes Liver Disease: Science Shows How by Heidi Stevenson
The science is definitive: The Hepatitis B vaccine is not only associated with liver disease, it causes it. The specific harm done is known, clearly documented. Low doses of the hepatitis B vaccine with aluminum adjuvant results in loss of mitochondrial integrity, cell death, and apoptosis, particularly in liver cells.
It is truly ironic that a vaccine supposedly for the purpose of protecting the liver is itself the cause of liver disease. Read more . . .
Update, October 9, 2012: The Refusers, an Epic Battle Against Vaccines: Interview with Michael Belkin
Music with a Message Makes a Movement. The Vaccine Choice Movement has matured. Michael Belkin has brought protest music to the mix, and he’s bringing it with passion and a sense of fun. He’s an economics statistician, transformed by tragedy into The Refuser, a powerhouse fighter against vaccine-induced misery. [Michael Belkin is the father of Lyla Rose Belkin who died after receiving her second Hepatitis B vaccination.] Read more . . .
Watch some of The Refusers’ videos.
National Vaccine Injury Claim for Jonathan Carrington
National Vaccine Information Center on Facebook
60 Things That Can Go Terribly Wrong with Hepatitis B Vaccination, Dr. Mercola
Hepatitis B vaccine, Wikipedia
Hepatitis B, National Network for Immunization Information
Hepatitis B vaccine Side Effects
Hepatitis Vaccine Side Effects
Hepatitis B Vaccine: The Untold Story, National Vaccine Information Center
Engerix B (hepatitis B vaccine)
Hepatitis B Vaccine
A Vaccine Horror Story
Hepatitis B Vaccine: Good for ‘Newborn’ Prostitutes and Drug Users, but Who Else?
Viral Hepatitis B Information
Hepatitis B FAQs for Health Professionals, CDC
Duration of Hepatitis B Immunity in Low Risk Children Receiving Hepatitis B Vaccinations from Birth
Long-term immunogenicity of hepatitis B vaccination in a cohort of Italian healthy adolescents
For How Long is the Hepatitis B Vaccine Effective?
New Study: Hepatitis B Vaccine Damages The Liver
Hepatitis B vaccine induces apoptotic death in Hepa1-6 cells