March 22, 2001
Joint Committee on Education, Arts and Humanities
To Members of the Committee:
Re: H.B. 1936
This is to let you know that AAPS strongly supports parental choice with regard to the hepatitis B vaccine.
Unless a child is born to an infected mother (and pregnant women are now screened in Massachusetts), the risk of exposure to hepatitis B is generally very low. Thus, the risk of serious adverse vaccine reaction is, for most children, higher than the risk of the disease.
Duration of immunity is uncertain; thus, it is questionable whether childhood vaccines will protect against later risks due to occupation or life-style.
AAPS has been waiting for more than a year for a response to our FOIA request for safety data on hepatitis B vaccine in infants and children. The studies relied upon for vaccine approval have not been published. More than 25,000 adverse events occurring after this vaccine, alone or in combination, have been reported to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). About one-third were serious enough to require an emergency room visit or hospitalization. There were 440 deaths.
We believe that parents should not be forced to accept this vaccine as a condition of school enrollment. They should seek the advice of their personal physician concerning the risks and benefits of the vaccine in their child's particular case.
Additional information may be found at www.aapsonline.org. Please feel free to call if I can provide any information or assistance.
Jane M. Orient, M.D.