Hepatitis B vaccination
controversy in New Jersey
Transcription of a report by Health & Medical Correspondent, Sara Lee
Broadcast 5:30 PM February 17, 2000 on New Jersey Nightly News (Channel 13
Another issue concerning children. New Jersey is among 8 states that
dont require hepatitis B vaccination for all school age youngsters. Now
the Public Health Council has proposed mandating the shots by September of
next year. Health and medical correspondent Sara Lee Kessler has the
Doctors have been giving the hepatitis B vaccine routinely to infants
since the early nineties. State health officials estimate 9 out of 10 New
jersey pre-schoolers already are immunized.
Internist John Slade of the New Jersey Public Health Council believes
it should be mandatory Its an infection that can cause chronic
illness with a gradual steady deterioration of liver function that can
lead to death.
(Switch to parent) But this Morris County mother worries more about
vaccine safety than disease risk. As we are vaccinating more and more
children and more and more of the population we are starting to see more
and more serious side effects ranging from Guillaine Barre Syndrome,
Multiple Sclerosis and SIDs deaths. The risk to children (babies) of
contractible disease is so small I dont understand the mandate.
(Switch to another interview) This Bergen County mother discussed the
vaccine issue with chiropractor Noel Plasker. (Switch to Dr. Plasker) I
think its important to have the choice -- especially if there are risks
In New Jersey in 1997 according to Center for Disease Control
statistics, there were 249 reported cases of hepatitis B -- none in
children ages 10 and under and only 2 in children ages 11 to 15.
(Switch back to interview with Doctor John Slade of the New Jersey
Public Health Commission)
(Medical Correspondent Kessler) This is not an airborne disease,
(Dr. Slade) This is not an airborne disease. It is spread by person to
person contact - by blood and by sexual intercourse.
(Medical Correspondent Kessler) Something that is not likely to involve
kids of kindergarten age, correct?
(Dr. Slade) Thats true.
(Medical Correspondent Kessler) Then whats the likelihood that they
are truly at risk?
(Dr. Slade) Kids grow up to be adults and were protecting people for
(Switch to conclusion of TV segment)
New Jersey already requires children to get 20 immunizations for about
8 different diseases before starting school. In April the Public Health
Council will take a final vote on adding hepatitis B to the list."