Thursday, July 19, 2007

Vaccines--Hep B

My stated requires 3 doses of Hepatitis B for school attendance. The MTC also recommends 3 doses.

The CDC recommends giving this vaccine to a baby immediately after birth, as well as at 1-2m, and 6-18m. If the vaccine is given to a child in their teens (11-15y), then only two doses are needed for full vaccination. Patients over the age of 14y have fewer side effects from this vaccine. The National Vaccine Information Center recommends that this vaccine only be given to high risk groups--not given routinely to children. (see below for information about risk groups)
Around 90% of people receiving this vaccination develop the desired antibodies (95% of children), but the rates drop with age (only 75% over 60y), so it is preferable to give this vaccine to younger people. Antibodies decrease with time, but vaccination is estimated to give immunity for 15 or more years (studies on this matter have not yet been completed). Current vaccination options are far less effective for people over 40, males, smokers, and those who are obese.
There are two versions of this vaccine: "Engenrix B" and "Recombivax HB." Both brands have *thimerosal-free versions, but both also have versions which contain *thimerosal, so know what you are getting! This is a genetically engineered vaccine, so it CANNOT give the actual disease...on the other hand, genetic engineering has its own problems.
*Thimerosal is a preservative which contains mercury
Some experts feel that this vaccine is related to rising rates of Multiple Sclerosis and Type 1 Diabetes in children. They have several studies to back this up (details in Dr Cave's book).

This vaccine contains yeast, aluminum hydroxide, latex (in the needle), and ethylene glycol. Allergen, poison, allergen, we need to go through all these again?

Hepatitis B is pretty ugly if you catch it. It messes with liver function, leading to jaundice (since the body can't get rid of toxins), and chronic Hep B is a common predecessor of liver cancer. 50% of infected adults are asymptomatic, and may pass on the disease unawares. Almost all children are asymptomatic. Approximately .5-1.5% of acute cases are fatal (2-300/year in the USA), and approximately 10% of cases become chronic carriers who can infect others (although they may still be asymptomatic and thus unaware of their carrier status). Chronic Hep B is not easy to treat--the most effective treatment seems to be Interferon, and it is only 25-50% effective. And the whole liver cancer thing...

Hepatitis B is a bloodborne pathogen. That means it is transmitted when bodily fluids, such as blood or semen, come in contact with the mucus membranes of another person. It is spread most often via sexual contact or shared needles. In other words, it is primarily a disease of promiscuous people, male homosexuals, and intravenous drug users. Is your baby a junkie hooker?! (The reason the CDC recommends giving this vaccine at birth is that there is some slight risk of the baby contracting Hep B from its mother during birth...IF she has the disease. There is also some slight risk to a small child if they were to be bitten by a HepB carrier, because saliva could infect them if their skin were broken by the bite.)
The lifetime risk of contracting Hepatitis B in the United States is <20%. (In China, Southeast Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Pacific Islands, and the Amazon, the risk is >60%)
Those in the USA at HIGH risk for contracting Hepatitis B are: homosexual males, illicit drug users, immigrants from areas with high risk of Hep B, and developmentally disabled persons who are in institutions. Those with MODERATE risk are: health care workers, prisoners, prison workers, promiscuous heterosexuals, and staff in institutions for the developmentally disabled.
The highest risk age group is 20-39. So why are we shooting this one into babies?

Hepatitis B rates in the USA have NOT CHANGED since the introduction of this vaccine. I believe this is because the children we are vaccinating are not the ones who were at risk anyway. The CDC says we need to spread awareness among high risk groups in order to see improvement.
Well duh!

My conclusions:
I feel that my children (indeed, most children) have little or no risk for this disease. Frankly, I don't really understand why it's on the 'required' list for school, OR for the MTC--even when traveling to a high risk area, a drug-free, chaste person is not really at risk.
I don't see this as a practical vaccine unless you fall into a risk group--personally or professionally.


katef said...

I just found your blog by following a link from Lolly's blog and I just wanted to say that I have really enjoyed reading your vax info. We selectively vaxed our twins and will do the same with our new baby though still not sure on what sort of schedule and it is so great to hear views that are not totally one way or the other! thanks!

Katrina said...

We avoided this one with our newborn, and I want to continue to avoid it. But if it's required for school entrance, at what point should we have it done so we won't have issues with the school nurse in five years?

Crystal said...

Katrina, there are "required" vaccines for school attendance... unless you fill out a vaccine exemption waiver. You have the choice. NO ONE can MAKE you give anything to your child. That is one of my biggest issues with parents becoming informed about these issues. The government and school systems play their cards to make you think that you have no choice and you MUST comply with their "rules" or your child will not be able to attend school. That's wrong. You have the choice and you are not obligated to give or receive any single vaccination. There's just a simple form to fill out and file with your school district if you choose to not vaccinate your children with any (or all) particular vaccine(s). :)

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