Hepatitis B Vaccine Reaction Reports Outnumber Disease Reports

Press Release

"Protecting the health and informed consent rights of children since 1982."

Contact: 703-938-0342

For Immediate Release
January 27,1999


National Poll Reveals Majority of Americans Want Informed Consent Rights

Washington, D.C. – The National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC) released figures this week which show that the number of hepatitis B vaccine-associated serious adverse event and death reports in American children under the age of 14 outnumber the reported cases of hepatitis B disease in that age group. NVIC is calling the government-mandated hepatitis B vaccination of all children a "dangerous and scientifically unsubstantiated policy." At the same time, a national poll reveals that two thirds of all Americans want the right to make informed, voluntary decisions about vaccination.

Independent analysis of raw computer data generated by the government-operated Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) confirms that in 1996, there were 872 serious adverse events reported to VAERS in children under 14 years of age who had been injected with hepatitis B vaccine. The children were either taken to a 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 had received hepatitis B vaccine in combination with other vaccines. 48 children were reported to have died after they were injected with hepatitis B vaccine in 1996 and 13 of them had received hepatitis B vaccine only before their deaths. By contrast, in 1996 only 279 cases of hepatitis B disease were reported in children under age 14.
(Click here to see graph)

1997 hepatitis B disease statistics from eight states reinforce the lack of hepatitis B disease in young children, particularly in children under 5 years old. For children under 5 years old, New Hampshire reported 1 case of hepatitis B; Washington state reported 2 cases; Michigan reported 9 cases; and Texas reported 13 cases. Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Illinois reported no hepatitis B cases in children under 5 years old. (Click here to see graph) By contrast, in 1997 there were a total of 106 VAERS reports of hepatitis B vaccine-related serious adverse events and 10 deaths in children under age 5 living in the eight states with 13 of the reported serious adverse events and 2 deaths occurring in children receiving only hepatitis B vaccine. (Click here to see graph)

There were 24,775 hepatitis B vaccine-related adverse events reported to VAERS in all age groups, including 9,673 serious adverse events and 439 deaths between July 1, 1990 and October 31, 1998. Out of this total, 17,497 reports were in individuals who received only hepatitis B vaccine without any other vaccines. 5,983 of the reports were for serious events and there were 146 deaths, which means that 35 percent of reports in all age groups after receipt of hepatitis B vaccine only are for serious events. (Click here to see graph)

During the same time period, there was a total of 2,424 adverse event reports, with 1,209 serious events and 73 deaths in children under age 14 who got hepatitis B vaccine alone without any other vaccines. This means that 52 percent or 1 out of 2 reports for children under age 14, who only receive hepatitis B vaccine, are for serious events.

VAERS depends primarily upon physicians reporting and causation cannot be conclusively determined without in-depth follow-up of each serious event and death report. NVIC maintains that reports made by doctors to VAERS represent only a small fraction of the vaccine-related injuries and deaths which occur in the U.S. every year. A former FDA Commissioner wrote in JAMA in 1993 that one study showed "only about 1 percent of serious events" attributable to drug reactions are reported to the FDA.

A 1994 NVIC survey of 159 doctors’ offices in 7 states revealed that only 28 out of 159 doctors (18%) said they make a report to the government when a child suffers a serious health problem following vaccination. In New York, only one doctor out of 40 surveyed reported vaccine adverse events to the government.

In a related development, NVIC also released the results of a national poll of 1,000 registered voters, taken by The Polling Company on December 8-11, 1998, which showed that 2 out of 3 (68%) Americans support a parent’s right to be informed of the risks of diseases and risks of vaccines and be able to choose whether or not their children receive certain vaccines which could potentially hurt them. A plurality (45%) of

Americans oppose state laws requiring all five-year olds to get the hepatitis B vaccine before being allowed to attend kindergarten and, when given information about risks of hepatitis B vaccination, 59 percent of respondents were less likely to support such mandatory vaccination laws.

Only 25 percent of Americans believe that people, after getting information about risks and benefits of medical procedures such as the administration of prescription drugs and vaccines, should then be required to follow the orders of their doctors or public health officials. The poll’s margin of error is +/-3.1% at the 95% confidence level (i.e. the same survey could be administered to a similar population and yield comparable results in roughly 19 of 20 cases).

Hepatitis B is primarily an adult disease most often transmitted through infected blood. Highest risk populations are IV drug users and people with multiple sex partners. In 1991 the CDC recommended that all infants be injected with the first dose of hepatitis B vaccine at birth before being discharged from the hospital newborn nursery, even though the only newborns at risk for contracting hepatitis B are those born to hepatitis B infected mothers. By 1998, only 15 states required mandatory screening of pregnant women for hepatitis B infection so babies born to infected mothers could be effectively targeted for hepatitis B vaccination, and yet 35 states required all children to get 3 doses of hepatitis B vaccine or be denied entry to daycare, kindergarten, high school or college.

The U.S. has historically had one of the lowest rates of hepatitis B disease in the world even before a hepatitis B vaccine was in use. In 1990, a year before the CDC issued the order for all children to get the vaccine, there were 21,102 cases of hepatitis B reported in the U.S. out of a total US population of 248 million. In 1996, there were 10,637 hepatitis B cases reported. According to the October 31, 1997 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report published by the Centers for Disease Control, "Hepatitis B continues to decline in most states, primarily because of a decrease in the number of cases among injecting drug users and, to a lesser extent, among both homosexuals and heterosexuals of both sexes."

In October 1998, France became the first country to end hepatitis B vaccination requirements for schoolchildren after reports of chronic arthritis, symptoms resembling multiple sclerosis and other serious health problems following hepatitis B vaccination became so numerous that the Health Minister of France suspended the school requirement.

"As more states mandate hepatitis B vaccination, NVIC is getting more reports of children dying or suffering rashes, fevers, seizures, arthritis, diabetes, chronic fatigue and other autoimmune and brain dysfunction following their hepatitis B shots," said NVIC co-founder and president Barbara Loe Fisher. "Newborn babies are dying shortly after their shots and their deaths are being written off as sudden infant death syndrome. Parents should have the right to give their informed consent to vaccination and Congress should give emergency, priority funding to independent scientists, who can take an unbiased look at this vaccine, instead of leaving the search for the truth in the hands of government officials who have already decided to force every child to get the vaccine," she said.

Drug companies marketing the genetically engineered recombinant DNA hepatitis B vaccine in the U.S. used studies to demonstrate safety which only monitored children for 4 or 5 days after vaccination. Professor Bonnie Dunbar, Ph.D., a Texas cell biologist and pioneering vaccine researcher, said "It takes weeks and sometimes months for autoimmune disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis, to develop following vaccination. No basic science research or controlled, long term studies into the side effects of this vaccine have been conducted in American babies, children or adults." Dr. Dunbar has joined consumers in calling for informed consent to hepatitis B vaccination as well as NIH funding for independent research to determine the biological mechanism for hepatitis B vaccine reactions, to identify high risk factors and to develop therapies to repair vaccine damage.

Founded in 1982, the National Vaccine Information Center is the oldest and largest vaccine safety and informed consent rights advocacy organization representing health care consumers and the vaccine injured. NVIC was instrumental in the creation of the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986, which has paid out nearly $1 billion dollars for vaccine injuries and deaths. For more information or to report a vaccine reaction, call 703-938-0342 or access .

The National Vaccine Information Center is a non-profit educational organization founded by parents of vaccine-injured children in 1982.

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