By Dr. Mercola
By the time your newborn is 12 hours old, federal health officials recommend administering the first dose of hepatitis B vaccine. TWELVE HOURS! If you want to avoid it, you must make it VERY clear to all hospital staff well before the delivery and monitor your baby closely until you leave the hospital.
Three hepatitis B shots are part of the standard government-recommended childhood vaccination schedule, with the third dose to be given before 18 months of age.
But hepatitis B is a primarily blood-transmitted adult disease associated with risky lifestyle choices such as unprotected sex with multiple partners and intravenous drug use involving sharing needles — it is NOT primarily a "children's disease" or one that is a common threat to newborn babies.
In fact, according to the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC):1
"The primary reason that the CDC recommended hepatitis B vaccination for all newborns in the United States in 1991 is because public health officials and doctors could not persuade adults in high risk groups (primarily IV drug abusers and persons with multiple sexual partners) to get the vaccine."
But now new research has shown that by the time a child reaches his or her teenage years – the time when acquiring a hepatitis B infection may be more likely – the protection from the childhood vaccine may have long since waned…
Infant Hepatitis B Vaccination May Be Ineffective in Teenagers
The study, which involved nearly 9,000 high school students, found that by the age of 15, about 15 percent of teens who received the full series of hepatitis B shots as infants tested positive for hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg), which is an early indicator of infection or a sign that the person is a chronic carrier of the virus.2
This percentage was even higher among teens who had received the hepatitis B vaccine off schedule, or whose mothers were high risk, meaning they tested positive for hepatitis B e antigen (HBeAg).
In other words, it appears that in many, this vaccine does NOT provide lasting protection. The researchers noted:
"A significant proportion of complete vaccinees may have lost their immunological memories against HBsAg."
It's for this reason that the hepatitis B vaccine for newborns and young children is the least justifiable of any vaccine I can think of and certainly should not be mandated for daycare or school attendance. Remember, the disease is only transmitted via contaminated needles, blood transfusion, or contact with contaminated blood and/or body fluids.
In fact, it is described by the CDC primarily as a sexually-transmitted disease, e.g. vaginal, anal, and oral sex transmitted. While babies can contract hepatitis B vertically via their mother at birth, this very rare risk can be identified via prebirth hepatitis screening of mothers, hence making vaccination essentially unnecessary in nearly every case.
And so, we must ask ourselves, if the only way a newborn infant can be infected with hepatitis B in a hospital is through infected blood or semen, either the hospital is doing a terrible job of protecting their newborns against such exposure, or the medical justification for vaccinating infants against Hepatitis B simply doesn't exist.
Hepatitis B Vaccine Linked to SIDS and Other Serious Side Effects
The recommendation to vaccinate newborns against a disease they have little to no risk of catching becomes all the more ludicrous when you consider the serious side effects the vaccine may cause. As NVIC reported:3
"As of March 2012, there were a total of 66,654 hepatitis B vaccine-related adverse events reported to the federal Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS), including reports of headache, irritability, extreme fatigue, brain inflammation, convulsions, rheumatoid arthritis, optic neuritis, multiple sclerosis, lupus, Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS) and neuropathy.
There have been more than 1,500 hepatitis B vaccine-related deaths reported, including deaths classified as sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)."
Keep in mind that this is likely an underestimation because only a fraction of the serious health problems, including deaths, following vaccination are ever acknowledged due to a lack of public awareness about how to recognize signs and symptoms of vaccine reactions.
Also, vaccine adverse events are substantially underreported — some estimate only between one and 10 percent of all serious health problems and deaths that occur after vaccination are ever reported — even though the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986 mandated that all doctors and other vaccine providers report serious health problems, including hospitalizations, injuries, and deaths following vaccination.
Moreover, often only acute reaction symptoms that occur soon after vaccination are recognized, since chronic inflammation and other subclinical adverse effects may take weeks, months, years, or even decades to fully manifest. This makes it very difficult, if not impossible in many cases, to link chronic health problems back to an earlier vaccination or series of vaccinations, especially when doctors fail to inform themselves or their patients about vaccine risks and fail to keep accurate medical records.
The 1986 Act did not include sanctions for failing to inform, record, or report potential vaccine reactions, injuries, and deaths to the federal Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS). So most vaccine providers, for reasons that are obvious, e.g. their guilt and desire to conveniently write off all vaccine-associated health problems as a "coincidence," do not file a report when the health of a person recently vaccinated begins to deteriorate.
Truth be told, many vaccine reactions are not even recognized by medical personnel as vaccine-related, in part because many have been misled into believing that vaccine-induced injuries are exceedingly rare.
For instance, when babies die after hepatitis B vaccinations, most of the time their deaths are automatically attributed to SIDS -- without investigation into whether the vaccine caused the baby's sudden death. When a baby's death is listed as "SIDS," rarely does anyone ask about the deceased infant's vaccination history to find out whether there were symptoms of vaccine reactions before death, even though the biomedical literature has repeatedly signaled this connection.4
60 Diseases and Adverse Reactions Are Associated with the Hepatitis B Vaccine
As Dr. Jane Orient of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS) testified to Congress:
"For most children, the risk of a serious vaccine reaction may be 100 times greater than the risk of hepatitis B."
Indeed, at least 60 diseases or adverse unintended consequences are associated with hepatitis B vaccination.5 Common reactions to the vaccine include fatigue, muscle weakness, fever, headache, irritability, and joint pain. A study published in Annals of Epidemiology6 also found that giving hepatitis B vaccine to infant boys more than tripled their risk for an autism spectrum disorder. This was doubly concerning because an earlier study by the same researcher group, using a different database, found the same results. And there have been reports of disabling neurological and immunological disorders that have developed following hepatitis B vaccinations as well, including:
Multiple sclerosis (MS) Guillain-Barre syndrome Bell's Palsy Diabetes Rheumatoid arthritis Lupus Idiopathic Thrombocytopenia purpura Convulsions and brain disorders such as encephalitis (brain swelling) and brain demyelination Immune dysfunction Visual and hearing impairments, including optic neuritis Pancreatitis Autism spectrum disorders
The association between hepatitis B vaccine and autism, particularly the 3-fold higher risk in males as reported by parents,7 may be explained by the well-known phenomena of molecular mimicry. Some researchers have proposed that the hepatitis B vaccine induces autoimmune demyelinating disease through the molecular mimicry that exists between the vaccine antigen, Epstein-Barr virus, and human myelin. Basically, the vaccine stimulates an antibody response that cross-reacts against neurological self-structures, such as myelin, resulting in neurological damage.8
What You Should Know About Hepatitis B
Hepatitis B is often called "the silent killer" because as many as 95 percent of those with the disease exhibit no symptoms at all, until it's too late. The disease can progress unnoticed for years in some cases, and patients oftentimes learn they have chronic hepatitis B once they develop severe liver damage. Hepatitis actually means liver inflammation. Ironically, hepatitis B vaccines have actually been shown to induce liver inflammation associated with hepatitis.9 The "A," "B," and "C" designations refer to the type of hepatitis virus involved. Symptoms of hepatitis A and B are very similar, and include:
- Abdominal pain
- Joint pain
- Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes)
Fortunately, in most cases the hepatitis B infection will resolve on its own provided you have a well-functioning immune system. Symptoms can be relieved by:
- Avoiding foods that weaken your immune function, such as sugars/fructose, grains, and processed foods. Healthful foods that help boost your immune system include fermented foods and organic vegetables. (Learn more by reading this article on the 12 most beneficial foods for robust immune function.)
- Optimizing your vitamin D levels
- Drinking plenty of pure water
- Avoiding alcohol and drugs
If you recover completely from hepatitis B infection, you'll acquire life-long immunity. A diagnosis of chronic hepatitis B, on the other hand, will typically include some form of antiviral medication, and depending on how far along your disease has progressed, you may even require a liver transplant. Even if you have been vaccinated as a child, it's important to remember that you may not be protected from these risks, and could still be infected via IV drug abuse, sexual activity with an infected partner, and a blood transfusion with contaminated blood. You may even get hepatitis B from a manicure or pedicure…
You Have a Choice Regarding Hepatitis B Vaccination
If you're an expecting parent, it's important to know that the hepatitis B vaccine is given to virtually every newborn in the hospital — many times without parents' consent — shortly after the child is born.
Please carefully review the reward-to-benefit ratio well before your deliver. If you conclude like many concerned health care professionals, that subjecting all healthy newborns to hepatitis B vaccination within hours of birth is both risky and unnecessary and you decide it is not appropriate for your baby, you can amend the "consent for medical treatment" forms you sign upon entering the hospital before giving birth by writing on the form that you do not give consent for your baby's hepatitis B vaccination in the newborn nursery. You should then inform any nurses or other medical staff involved in the care of you and your baby that consent for the hepatitis B vaccine has not been given.
However, there are reports that some newborns are being vaccinated in the newborn nursery against the parent's wishes. So it is a good idea to keep your newborn with you at all times or have a family member stay with the baby while in the hospital.
That said, it is important to be tested for hepatitis B if you're pregnant, as it's possible to have a chronic infection with no symptoms and not know it. If you are pregnant and are a carrier for the hepatitis B virus, your baby could be at risk for being infected during childbirth.
And although hepatitis B vaccines may be "mandated" for your child to attend school or day care, most states offer different legal vaccine exemptions (medical, religious, and philosophical). On NVIC.org, you can research your state's specific vaccine laws and requirements and find out what kind of exemption to hepatitis B vaccination you are allowed to exercise in your state for your child to attend daycare or school.