Another reason to vaccinate

Of all the vaccines in a child’s repertoire, perhaps the most controversial is the vaccine against Hepatitis B virus. It’s not because of concerns about the vaccine’s safety necessarily; parents tend to be more worried about the MMR vaccine, since that has received so much press. But many parents feel that the HBV vaccine is unnecessary. HBV is transmitted primarily via exposure to blood or other body fluids, or by sexual transmission. Because they assume their kids will be smart, stay away from drugs, and not have sex with the “wrong” people, they assert that the vaccine is a waste and an unnecessary risk for their children. However, recent research suggests that there is reason to be extra cautious, describing HBV transmission between dental patients.

The investigation began when a 60-year-old woman (I’ll call her patient X) was diagnosed with Hepatitis B infection. She didn’t have any of the risk factors for acquisition–no drug use, no sex for many years–so they began an investigation in order to determine just how she became infected with the virus. The one thing she did mention was having oral surgery several months prior, so investigators looked into patients who’d had oral surgery in the same clinic at the same time as the woman. They then cross-checked those patients against the Department of Health’s Hepatitis B registry, and found a match to a patient who’d had surgery the same morning as the index case (I’ll refer to her as Patient Y). A portion of the viral DNA was sequenced and found to match, suggesting they were very closely related (and supporting the hypothesis that Patient X was infected by Patient Y).

48 other patients had surgery in that same week at the facility; 27 of them following the source case, and blood samples were obtained from 25 of them. Luckily, many of these patients (64%) had been fully vaccinated already for HBV. No other cases were identified.

What’s most worrisome is that the investigators couldn’t work out exactly how the virus was transmitted. As far as they could tell, normal infection control practices were adhered to. Tools were autoclaved, hands were washed, the office was regularly cleaned and potentially exposed surfaces were disinfected. So how did the virus infect Patient X? They don’t know.

Now, granted, this is an unusual case–enough so to have been written up and submitted as a novel paper. It’s very unlikely that anyone reading would actually contract HBV from a procedure at their doctor, or dentist, or even tattoo artist, as long as all were following proper infection control procedures. But the fact is, one just never knows, and as the vaccine is safe and available, why not protect your kids? Even if you believe your little Timmy and Suzy are perfect angels and would never touch drugs or have sex with someone who might be infected, having them vaccinated protects them in case they make life decisions that mom and dad may frown upon–and also protects them from freak occurrences such as the one described above.


Redd et al. 2007. Patient-to-Patient Transmission of Hepatitis B Virus Associated with Oral Surgery. 195:1311-1314. Link.

Join the Conversation


  1. Kind of, but in that case it was found that the doctor had the virus, so it was clear how the patients were infected. In this case, the doctor and all the technicians tested don’t have HepB, which makes it a mystery how the virus contaminated some instrument, or object, or whatever, and ended up infecting the other patient.

  2. Right. You can also (theoreticly) get Hep B and (shocks!) even HIV/AIDs from a toilet seat!! So lets all be super paranoid and inject our kids with all kinds of chemicals and heavy metals(aluminum, formaldahyde, mercury, etc) because we all know they are SO good for us! So good in fact, that they are regulated by the EPA and kids today get greater than the limits set by the EPA in many childhood vaccines – or at least they do if you follow the ‘recommended schedule’ and give your kids a half dozen vaccines all at once. But yes, vaccines saved the world. They are the be-all end-all of science and medicine and we should all trust and believe in them and the pharmacutical giants blindly.

  3. My son got it from spittle of a carrier, a boy with special needs who was in a group home another son worked at. He brought the boy home one weekend and my son ended up with Hep B.
    No sex, no drugs, but some body fluid exchange none the less.

  4. Have you heard anything about the legal cases in France of Hep B vaccines being linked to multiple sclerosis?

  5. Oh ick, another creepy reason to avoid places with body fluids spread across the sharp edges. I wish I had never taken that class “Blood Borne Pathogens”. Now I just feel so at ease around other people.

  6. Why has no one brought up the raging controversy that seems to be most strongly in favor of a thimerasol (vaccine preservative) autism connection. See included my english research essay. I got an A by the way.

    Alice Brenner
    English 1301
    Patricia Dungan
    22 April 2007
    The Autism Thimerasol Connection

    When a parent innocently obeys the “authorities” and allows a child to receive vaccinations, mounds of scientific data artfully shielded from their eyes now makes this act a sort of roulette game. If unlucky on this day, the beloved child could end up with a damaged brain, his future hopelessly destroyed, and the family that has proudly brought him forth will be plunged into an endless nightmare. As they drive toward the doctor’s, instead of happily considering if the child should be treated to an ice cream after the shot, the parent should be agonizing over the following questions: Could this child have the genetic traits that inhibit mercury excretion or mercury efflux disorder? What accumulated amount of mercury already exists in the infant’s tissue from previous vaccines or environmental sources? And, how many of the shots received on that day will contain the preservative thimerasol? Thimerasol used since the 1930’s in an ever-growing number of mandated childhood vaccines, contains 50% ethyl mercury, a known developmental neurotoxin. The affinity of ethyl mercury for nervous tissue and its ability to do devastating damage particularly to the developing brain has produced a rapidly escalating number of children with neuro-developmental disorders including autism. If parents only knew what a high stakes controversy is raging between scientists, physicians, class action lawyers, vaccine manufacturers, and regulatory government agencies as they are forced to examine this painful revelation, they would forgo the shots and head right away over to Amy’s Ice Cream. After all, a dose of ice cream has never completely altered anyone’s future.
    Autism, on the other hand, can lead to a lifetime of institutional care and it is reaching epidemic proportions in the US with a sudden explosion in rates over the past 15 years. The alarming surge in autistic children has coincided with a nearly three-fold increase in the amount of ethyl mercury injected into American children as they comply with the Center’s For Disease Control’s recommended vaccine schedule. (McBride 1) Rates of autism have risen from 11 in 2,500 children in the eighties to 1 in 166 by 2004. And this drastic rise in childhood autism cannot be explained away by statistical anomalies. (Blakeslee A1) Testosterone increases the toxicity of mercury so more boys are affected. One in 80 boys have been diagnosed autistic. (Yeargen-Allsop 49-50) The Amish shun most of the medical interventions of the modern world including vaccines. A reporter who became curious about whether you would find the same national statistics among Amish children expected to find at least 200 autistic children based on the population of the Amish community he visited. Instead he found only three who had each been definitely vaccinated. Two of these had been adopted from outside the community. (Olmstead)
    There was no autism until there were vaccines containing thimerasol. Autism was discovered in 1943 twelve years after thimerasol was added to the pertussis vaccine. In the 1950’s with an immunization schedule limited to four vaccines, one in 10,000 children developed the disease. By 1996, the total injection of 246 micrograms of mercury in the recommended vaccine schedule precipitated an autism rate of one out of every 350 children. Today children are required to have 13 vaccines in 33 shots before they reach the age of 2. (Geier 1) Moreover, The EPA has set the maximum safe exposure rate for mercury at 0.1 micrograms per kilogram per day. According to the FDA this figure is frequently exceeded by over 400% through regularly scheduled vaccinations during the first six months of life. In fact the injections received by an infant in a single “well baby visit” can exceed the EPA recommendations by 100 times. (Bernard)
    Vaccine manufacturers have ignored mercury related scientific research for over fifty years because the more sanitary single dose vials, which don’t need a preservative, are twice as costly to make. In 1935 researchers at vaccine manufacturer Pittman-Moore warned Lilly that thimerasol was unsafe. They declared the preservative “unsatisfactory as a serum for dogs.” (Kennedy 5) Mark Geier, MD. PhD, a physician and a geneticist, did studies of the vaccination records of children who had reported reactions to the Center’s for Disease Control, (CDC), which were recorded in their Vaccine Data Link and found increasing relative risks for neuro-developmental disorders and heart disease with increasing doses of mercury. (Geier 5) The developing brain is logically many times more sensitive to the developmental neurotoxic effects of organic mercury than is the adult brain. The CDCs published case definition for diagnosis of mercury poisoning is when the blood mercury levels exceed 10 ug/L. Based on these criteria the use of thimerosal in infant vaccines would constitute mercury poisoning. (Lucier 17) Studies of children whose mothers consumed fish contaminated with methyl mercury in Japan and other countries where there had been an environmental hazard showed mercury poisoning related dysfunctions in the the domains of language, attention, cognitive function visual spatial and motor function. These neurological effects of diagnosed mercury poisoning seem to mimic the traits defined in autism. (Lucier 3-4; Bernard )
    The next question is obvious. If ethyl mercury is so dangerous why don’t all children get autism following vaccination? The answer is genetics. Children with autism do not process or efflux mercury in the same way that other children do. They have inherited a reduced ability to bind and excrete mercury or “mercury efflux disorder. In studies of hair samples from autistic children, mercury levels were about 50% less than that in hair samples of the non-autistic. In other words children diagnosed with autism were excreting much less mercury from their bodies. (Holmes 4) This is further corroborated by research showing that autistic children have greatly reduced levels of the key protein called glutathione, which is essential to safely binding and excreting toxic heavy metals. (James 1-8) Reports from the thousands of parents regarding the use of “mercury chelation” therapy further confirm that the culprit is mercury. When chelated with heavy metal chelators they report substantial reversal of autistic symptoms including reemergence of language and social interaction. (McBride 4)
    This has led to much finger pointing by scientists, environmental toxicologists and the parents who always claimed they had a normal child until they were vaccinated a few times. And it has led to desperate and unethical defensive measures from an embarrassed group of vaccine policy makers. Doctors who serve on Federal Advisory Boards for vaccine policy making , such as the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices and their Vaccine Safety Committee have serious conflicts of interest problems. These doctors vote on vaccines made by companies who have them on the payroll, and where they often possess a large amount of stock and even patents for vaccines under consideration.(US) It’s called the drug manufacturers “revolving door” or “old boys network” of vaccine advisors who rotate between service at the FDA, CDC and lucrative jobs with vaccine manufacturers. Disturbing information about thimerosal is screened from the public and from the pediatricians who dispense vaccines. Mainstream medical journals like Pediatrics and The New England Journal of Medicine only publish studies that either claim thimerosal is safe or studies that cannot either confirm or rule out a causal connection between vaccines and autism. (Rimland ) These articles are written by researchers whose hands are in the pockets of vaccine makers. (US) The FDA instructed the manufacturers to begin taking the mercury out of vaccines as soon as possible in 1999. However, because they are afraid of officially incriminating thimerasol and the litigation that would follow, they have not recalled the existing lots of thimerasol containing vaccine. Ely Lilly, the original developer of thimerosal was facing at least one class-action law suit seeking upwards of 30 billion dollars in damages, but managed to get the Bush administration to attach a bill to the Homeland Security Act making it impossible to sue a vaccine manufacturer for damages. (Stolberg A35; Glazer 30) Dr. Mark Geier spent a year battling to obtain the Vaccine Safety Data Link, statistics that are a collection of reported vaccine reactions owned by the CDC. Immediately after Geier presented his findings on the autism thimerasol connection to the Institute Of Medicine, the CDC shut down their access to extract data stating “potential breaches of confidentiality” (Kirby)
    An honest recognition that vaccines caused autism by the CDC would mean that their policies irreparably damaged thousands of children. They can’t do that. The literature that pediatricians quote to concerned patients, therefore, cannot be trusted as fact. The rise in autism rates that has coincided with an increased infant exposure to mercury via thimerasol laden vaccines is a serious indictment of the Centers for Disease Control and particularly their Vaccine Safety Committee. They are supposed to work for us. Perhaps treason is not a strong enough accusation for these men. Until vaccines are guaranteed free of the preservative thimerasol a “well baby visit” can become your child’s worst nightmare.

    Works Cited
    Blakeslee, Sandra. “Increase in Autism Baffles Scientists.” The New York Times.
    18 Oct 2002. p. A 1
    Bernard, Enayati, Redwood, Roger, Binstock. “Autism: A Novel Form of Mercury Poisoning.” 3 Apr 2000 pub online. Safe Minds. < >.
    Geier, Mark R., MD., PhD and Geier, David. “Thimerosal in Childhood Vaccines, Neurodevelopmental Disorders, and Heart Disease in the US.” Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons. AAPS. Spring 2003. Volume 8 Number 1. <>.
    Glazer, Sarah. “Increase in Autism.” CQ Researcher 13.23 (2003): 545-568. CQ Researcher Online. CQ Press. Austin Community College, Austin, TX.
    23 Apr 2007. <>.
    Holmes A., Blaxill M., Haley B. “Reduced Levels of Mercury in First Baby Haircuts of Autistic Children.” 2003. International Journal Of Toxicology. 22(4):277-285.
    James S, et al. 2005 Thimerasol toxicity is Associated with Glutathione Depletion..” Neurotoxicology. 26(1): 1-8.
    Kennedy, Robert, environmental attny. “Deadly Immunity.” Rolling Stone Magazine
    20 June 2005 immunity/.
    Kirby, David. Evidence of Harm. St Martin’s Griffin. New York, NY Mar 2006.
    Lucier, George W. Ph.D., toxicologist ” Thimerasol is a Developmental Neurotoxicant.” <>.
    McBride, Brendan, Texas Attorney. “Solving the Autism Puzzle: The science they don’t want you to know about.” Dads Against Mercury. 21 Aug 2005. <>.
    Olmsted, Dan. “The Age of Autism: The Amish Anomaly.” United Press International. Lancaster, PA. 18 Apr 2006. <>.
    Rimland, Bernard, PhD. “Testimony of Dr. Rimland before the House Committee on Government Reform.” Autism Research Institute.
    Stolberg, Sheryl Gay. “A Capitol Hill Mystery: Who Aided Drug Maker?” The New York Times. 29 Nov 2002. p A35.
    US House of Representatives. 106 Congress. Dan Burton, MD. Chairman. “FACA: Conflict of Interest and Vaccine Development–Preserving the Integrity of the Process.” US Congressional Hearings Committee on Government Reform. second session. 15 June 2000. serial number 106-239. U.S. government Printing Office. < 1.html>.
    Yeargen-Allsopp, Marshalyn. “Prevalence of Autism in a US Metrolpolitan Area. ” Journal of the American Medical Association. (JAMA) 1 Jan 2003. pp 49-55.

  7. My brother said that when he played college football, they required the players to get Hep B vaccines, because it is a contact sport.

    So hearty, all-American activities can put peole at risk for this disease.

  8. An ‘A’ from you English Professor doesn’t mean your essay is scientifically accurate, Alice.

    In fact, it isn’t.

    Instead of reading Rolling Stone articles, please read the actual peer-reviewed research.

    Thimerosal-containing vaccines and autistic spectrum disorder: a critical review of published original data.

    Autism and thimerosal-containing vaccines: lack of consistent evidence for an association.

    Thiomersal in vaccines: balancing the risk of adverse effects with the risk of vaccine-preventable disease.

    Thimerosal exposure in infants and developmental disorders: a prospective cohort study in the United kingdom does not support a causal association.

    The evidence for the safety of thiomersal in newborn and infant vaccines.

    Association between thimerosal-containing vaccine and autism.

    Safety of Thimerosal-Containing Vaccines: A Two-Phased Study of Computerized Health Maintenance Organization Databases

  9. Alice,

    I don’t think your English professor was grading your paper on the scientific evidence you presented nor is qualified to do so. You got an A on that paper because it was well written. I would have given you a B (or low A-) because you did not introduce alternative viewpoints and refute them, but I am a stickler for the classical style of argument where one must bring up and refute dissenting viewpoints when writing a formal paper.

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