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Bernadine Healy and the Hepatitis B myth

Posted Apr 17 2009 11:38pm

Kev has already commented on Dr. Bernadine Healy’s return to the autism world. Besides giving herself a big pat on the back for being part of a “war”, she made a number of mistakes (as Kev has pointed out ).

Kev missed one of Dr. Healy’s mistakes—the Hep-B myth.

One of the recurring myths of anti-vaccine groups is that Hepatitis B is only transmitted in one of three ways

1) from an infected mother to a newborn
2) via shared needles
3) via sex

Thus, the logic goes, the Hep-B shot is unnecessary. (followed usually by, and only in the schedule to line the pockets of the evil vaccine manufacturers…but I digress).

As mentioned above, Dr. Healy has picked this theme up in her recent return to the vaccines-cause-autism spotlight.

On her recent visit to the Larry King Live show, she stated,

There are some vaccines here that one—a parent can legitimately question: giving a one-day old baby, or a two-day old baby Hepatitis B vaccine, that has no risk for it. The mother has no risk for it. That’s a heavy duty vaccine given on day two, at two months, at four months.

In her recent US News blog post,

The extras here include protection against the sexually transmitted hepatitis B virus…

Just because it’s sexually transmitted doesn’t mean it’s only sexually transmitted.

From the recent paper (with Dr. Offit as lead author, The Problem With Dr Bob’s Alternative Vaccine Schedule:

Before the hepatitis B vaccine became part of the routine schedule for children, every year ~16 000 children <10 years of age were infected with hepatitis B virus after nonsexual, person-to-person contact.[reference 2] Given that reported cases might not include subclinical infections, this estimate is probably low.

Reference 2 is Childhood Hepatitis B Virus Infections in the United States Before Hepatitis B Immunization.

Let’s face simple facts—if Dr. Healy is really in this discussion, she has to have read the recent Offit paper. More importantly, I would hope that she read the paper Dr. Offit references. I mean, really, how could she not? And, yet, she acts as though no one has publicly refuted the Hep-B myth.

In one of the stranger bits of logic I’ve seen in a while, Dr. Healy suggests putting off the Hep-B vaccinations until “school age”. Hmmm. Don’t give it at birth because it isn’t needed because it is a sexually transmitted disease. But, give it to, what, 5 year olds when they enter school? Did I miss something and our kindergardeners are sexually active drug abusers? Or, maybe she’s thinking we should give it at age 13 to catch the kids before they become sexually or drug active? Would that mean that she’s pro-gardasil?

I will give Dr. Healy credit for one thing—she dropped the misrepresentations of the IOM that permeated her entrance into the world of autism “personalities”.

I guess I should count myself lucky for that small bit of progress.

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