Frank Talk About the Hep B Vaccine for Newborns

Why all Children are Supposed to Get the Hepatitis B Vaccine at Birth

In the prescribing information for the Hepatitis B vaccine, Merck says:

Hepatitis B is endemic throughout the world and is a serious medical problem in population groups at increased risk. Because vaccination limited to high-risk individuals has failed to substantially lower the overall incidence of hepatitis B infection, both the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) and the Committee on Infectious Diseases of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) have also endorsed universal infant immunization as part of a comprehensive strategy for the control of hepatitis B infection.

So, all of our infants are supposed to get this vaccine a few times, regardless of their risks of getting Hepatitis B because when vaccinations were limited to high-risk individuals, the program was unsuccessful. Got it. One for all and all for some. Even still, I have to ask: Must it really be started when a baby is one day old?!?!


Has the Vaccine Helped us as a Nation? Comparing Risks and Benefits

Globally, at least 500,000 people who have been chronically infected with hepatitis B die annually from cirrhosis or liver cancer which is sometimes caused by the Hepatitis B virus. (source) I suppose that is is actually a lot of people. Keep in mind though, that is GLOBALLY and from EVERY AGE GROUP. There are 6,840,507,000 people in the world. That means that annually, 0.0007 PERCENT of our population die from cirrhosis of the liver or liver cancer.

Twice as many people die each year globally because they kill THEMSELVES deliberately by committing suicide. Yet, where is the massive outpouring of funds to support suicide education that should essentially be twice as massive as the funds dedicated to the Hepatitis B vaccine programs?  This is not to make light of Hepatitis B, merely to put it into perspective. When my daughter was vaccinated, I basically thought she had a good chance of getting this disease at any point as an infant without her vaccination.

Our medical community though says that the benefits of a mandated vaccination program for Hepatitis B vaccination at birth is imperative and has caused Hepatitis B rates to significantly decline in the last two decades. Look at this chart from the CDC for example:

Figure 3.2.  From 1990 through 2009, incidence rates for acute hepatitis B decreased for all age groups; the greatest declines occurred in the 20–29 and 30–39 year age groups. In 2009, the highest rates were among persons aged 30–39 years (2.28 cases/100,000 population), and the lowest were among adolescents and children aged <19 years (0.06 cases/100,000 population).

That’s a pretty serious declines isn’t it? It would seem as though it’s safe to say that the vaccination program really has made a difference. Right?

Well, hold on one second. Hepatitis C rates are also monitored by the CDC. There is no vaccine available at this time for Hepatitis C, yet check out the decline in Hepatitis C over the same time period:

Figure 4.2.  From 1992 through 2002, incidence rates for acute hepatitis C decreased for all age groups (excluding the 0–19 year age group); rates remained fairly constant from 2002 through 2009.  In 2009, rates were highest among persons aged 20–29 years (0.7 cases per 100,000 population) and lowest among persons ≥60 years of age (0.04 cases per 100,000 population).

And yet we are urged to accept that the reason for the decline of Hepatitis B was simply because of the vaccination program. Given that both kind of Hepatitis showed nearly similar decline rates over the same period of time, doesn’t it seem far more likely that the decline was due to educational programs aimed at reducing risky behavior that arose from the HIV epidemic?

Even if it is a coincidence and this vaccine program actually deserved all the credit, I’ll ask again: Must it really be started when a baby is one day old?!?!

Clinical Trials Verses Marketed Experience

Clinical trials are one way to judge side effects that could come from a vaccine, but we also need to review real life adverse events.  After only a few years of this program over a decade ago, in  a statement to the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee,  as executive director of AAPS,  Jane Orient, M.D. wrote:

For most children, the risk of a serious vaccine reaction may be 100 times greater than the risk of hepatitis B. Overall, the incidence of hepatitis B in the U.S. is currently about 4 per 100,000. The risk for most young children is far less; hepatitis B is heavily concentrated in groups at high risk due to occupation, sexual promiscuity, or drug abuse. VAERS contains 25,000 reports related to hepatitis B vaccine, about one-third of which were serious enough to lead to an emergency room visit, hospitalization, or death. It is often assumed that only 10% of reactions are reported. (This committee has heard testimony about persons being actively discouraged from reporting, even if they are aware of the reporting system.) Thus, if there have been some 80,000 serious adverse reactions associated with 20 million doses of vaccine, the risk is about 4 in 1000. 

According to Merck, the following rare adverse reactions have been reported following the administration of the Hepatitis Vaccine:

  • Elevation of liver enzymes; constipation
  • Guillain-Barré Syndrome
  • Multiple Sclerosis; exacerbation of multiple sclerosis
  • Myelitis including transverse myelitis
  • Seizures
  • Febrile seizures
  • Peripheral neuropathy including Bell’s Palsy
  • Radiculopathy
  • Herpes Zoster
  • Migraine
  • Muscle weakness
  • Hypesthesia
  • Encephalitis
  • Stevens-Johnson Syndrome
  • Alopecia
  • Eczema
  • Arthritis
  • Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE)
  • Optic neuritis
  • Tinnitus
  • Conjunctivitis
  • Visual disturbances
  • Uveitis

Now, Merck explains that whether the vaccine caused these issues in completely unknown. Meanwhile, the medical community vigorously tries to disprove a Harvard University study that showed an increased risk of Multiple Sclerosis with the use of the Hepatitis B vaccine as well as a study implicating this vaccine in significantly increased rates of many other autoimmune diseases, including many listed above and numerous other studies publicly available that support these findings too.

Even if these events aren’t always solely attributed to the series of Hepatitis B vaccinations, I’ll ask again: Must it really be started when a baby is one day old?!?!


Actual Warnings in Merck’s Own Words

In the prescribing information, it is warned:

  • Use caution when vaccinating latex-sensitive individuals since the vial stopper and the syringe plunger stopper and tip cap contain dry natural latex rubber that may cause allergic reactions.
  • Any serious active infection including febrile illness is reason for delaying use of the vaccine except when in the opinion of the physician, withholding the vaccine entails a greater risk.

A “febrile illness” is one that is accompanied by a fever. Many parents associate the term febrile with “febrile seizures” and they don’t quite understand that the word febrile in that case describes the cause of the seizure. So, children with a fever, should not get this vaccination unless the pediatrician feels waiting would entail a greater risk to the child than not waiting.

I’m not in a position to say that we do not need this vaccine. I’m not a doctor. It is my constitutional right, however, simply ask, must the Hepatitis B vaccine be given at one day old?!


  1. Christine

    My son was in the NICU because he had a stroke within 72 hours of being born. Upon leaving the hospital, they wanted to give him a hep b shot. At that point, I refused because I couldn’t imagine putting him through anything else. One, I can’t believe that the doctors and nurses would offer it knowing the child had just been through so much and obviously didn’t have the strongest immune system at that point and two, how they can offer it at so young to begin with. The aluminum level in the hep b shot is through the roof and way too high to be giving to a brand new baby anyway. I don’t even understand how it is okay, when it clearly exceeds the FDA allowable amount.

  2. Thanks for your article and blog. You have raised some pertinent questions and I’m truly sorry to know that your child suffers after the vaccination and no one is ready to admit that it COULD be the vaccine at fault. You can then imagine that a huge percentage of adverse reactions go unreported. That is in no way reassuring to us parents. This is a fact that repeats time and time again; if we believe that our doctors mean well, then it is the pharmaceutical companies who are clearly brainwashing the doctors.

    You might like to read this article

    After reading it, you will probably change your question – ‘why at birth’ to ‘why at all’.

    • Dawn

      Well, I already have changed my question to why at all. The problem with this vaccine is it is usually unexpected and mothers don’t realize they will get it on day one. They don’t give you a heads up, so you don’t have time to research it. I trust that concerned parents can research and make their own decision as the child ages, but the AT BIRTH thing is very pertinent. It’s deliberate, because they found if they delay, people opt out. They use the birth setting and vulnerabilities to make it more likely they will get it.

  3. KathyH

    I guess you are not aware that prior to 1992, one of the major ways to get Hep C was thru blood tranfusions and organ transplants. In 1992, screening began of all blood and organs. That resulted in a huge drop in Hep C rates. Coincidentally, Hep B rates were plummeting due to the vaccine.


    • Dawn

      Oh see, I thought I remember being a preteen when all the AIDS scares brought hepatitis and other life threatening (coined only risky lifestyle diseases) into the forefront. I did believe that it was much earlier than 1992 when they started screening blood and organs. I will have to check into that, because if you are correct, I am remembering the hoopla all over the news for years wrong… and I was only a child then.

      If you are right though… the vaccine could STILL wait.

      • Dawn

        JUst so everyone knows, it was 91 & 92 when they started testing transfusions for Hepatitis C. Though I don’t really get why that works as an argument contrary to the statement above: “Given that both kind of Hepatitis showed nearly similar decline rates over the same period of time, doesn’t it seem far more likely that the decline was due to educational programs aimed at reducing risky behavior that arose from the HIV epidemic?” It all goes hand in hand to demonstrate the decline was due to better awareness, completely devoid of ANY vaccine.

        BECAUSE… they also test blood for Hep B when doing transfusions etc as well.

    • Angie

      What in the world does that even have to do with this post? Parents have every right to question vaccines, their safety and their efficacy.

      You’re talking about two very different things.

      Most babies are at NO RISK WHATSOEVER of contracting hepatitis B.

  4. Jodi

    I also had a NICU baby and declined the Hep vaccine — you would have thought I was taking him off of the oxygen. They couldn’t believe I wanted to take my baby home w/out the vaccine — but I did! I waiting until his second or third well-baby visit before he got the vaccine. He was nursing and gaining weight by then. I felt very good about my decision and know that it was the right thing to do –thank you for your article!

  5. Pingback: 30 Blogs on Preparing for Childbirth | Newborn Care

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