March 22, 2001
To: AAPS members and supporters in Massachusetts
Re: Freedom of choice in vaccines
Massachusetts Citizens for Vaccination Choice is supporting H.B. 1936, which would allow parents to choose whether or not to vaccinate their child against hepatitis B for school entrance. Currently, this vaccine is mandated for day care and school admission to kindergarten and seventh grade. This will soon be expanded to every grade.
The bill will be heard on Tuesday, March 27, at 1 p.m. before the Education Committee. The lead sponsor of the bill is Rep. John Rodgers.
Arguments in support of this bill are: (1) infants and children are generally not at risk for this disease unless their mother is infected; (2) pregnant women are already screened for hepatitis B in MA; (3) safety testing has been limited, especially in duration of follow-up; (4) the rate of reported vaccine adverse effects and death far outweighs the number of infections in children 0-14 years old; (5) and the duration of efficacy is questionable.
AAPS believes that patients have the right to decline medical intervention, even if their physician recommends it, and that decisions about vaccines should be made by parents in consultation with a personal physician who considers the individual circumstances of each patient.
Committee members are listed on the enclosure should you wish to contact them with your views on this matter. Please call us if you would like to testify before the Committee.
Additional information about hepatitis B vaccine is found on our web site, www.aapsonline.org.
Jane M. Orient, M.D.