By Judy Converse, MPH, RD
Hepatitis B Vaccine & Autism
Chapter 7: Does Your Kid Need This Shot?
The fact that I was never given a chance to consider whether Ben should get a hepatitis B shot made me doggedly pursue information about the virus and the vaccine. The fact that the shot’s effect on my son had escalated to a legal assault for the roof over our heads enraged me. I wanted to know what I should have learned while I was pregnant, before Ben ever got jabbed: Was hepatitis B really a threat to him? Why was the vaccine so casually given, it’s reaction so ignored? Who gets hepatitis B virus? What happens if you get it? Why was it given on the day he was born, without my knowledge or consent? Why aren’t reactions acknowledged? Why is there no medical treatment for a reaction? Once I testified, what originally was a book about infant food allergies and normal nutrition became a media-scrutinized battle about the appropriateness of this shot.
Hypothetical: Let’s say there is an AIDS vaccine and it is recommended–no, mandated–for universal pediatric use. You know your child could contract AIDS as a young adult, like anyone else. But you also know it’s preventable, and that you will teach your child to avoid behaviors that put him or her at risk. You know that typical healthy infants do not get AIDS, unless their infected mothers transmit the virus at birth. You know that babies and toddlers can’t and don’t pass AIDS to each other because (a) they don’t have AIDS in the first place, and (b) they don’t have sex or mix blood with each other. Still, your pediatrician urges you to give your newborn, six month old, or eight year old the shot. Although your child is years away from being at risk, and there are more persons with HIV and AIDS successfully surviving than previously thought remotely possible, you are pressed to give the shot. Your kid will be kept out of school without it. What do you do?
Add to this that you learn of thousands of FDA-documented adverse reactions to the shot. In fact, there are more adverse reactions to it than to all other vaccines combined. These are particularly devastating for babies, who wind up with life shattering, permanent impairments or even death when they react. Though independent researchers have begun to document and describe these events, health officials deny the reactions, and will not speculate on who is susceptible. Adults and older children who react experience permanent disability as they mysteriously lose functioning in their limbs, acquire chronic fatigue syndrome, and watch their immunity to just about everything lapse. Still want the shot for your new baby?
There’s more. When you investigate further, you find that health officials in several countries disagree on how long the shot’s immunity lasts. The manufacturer says it lasts four or five years. This means that your child will need perhaps two booster series before he reaches the age of twenty. In essence, you’re immunizing him against a disease for a period of his life during which he has essentially no risk of getting that disease. It’s like taking an aspirin on Monday in hopes of preventing a hangover on Friday. Is it beginning to sound like a good way to sell a lot of aspirin? If it doesn’t yet, it will when you find out that the manufacturer’s own testing shows that everyone acquires immunity with three doses of the shot. Why does your doctor insist on a series of four?
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Judy Converse, MPH, RD is a licensed registered dietitian specializing in dietary intervention for autism. Her practice assists agencies and hospitals serving those with autism and provides therapeutic diets for affected children. She holds graduate and undergraduate degrees in nutrition and has worked in cardiac nutrition, diabetes, and infant/toddler nutrition. A vaccine safety advocate, she has testified before state and federal legislators on infant hepatitis B vaccination. She lives with husband Chris and son Ben, who survived a nearly fatal hepatitis B vaccine adverse reaction at birth.
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