Has Ohio’s vaccine policy gone too far?
Drug lobby, not science, pushed through hepatitis B immunization requirement

By Kristine M. Severyn
Dayton Daily News OpEd Page, January 27, 1999

Because a few in society choose to sleep around or shoot up drugs, all Ohio children will be forced to receive a vaccine for a disease that more than 95 percent of them will never acquire on their lifetimes.

Recent public-health chicanery in Columbus, played out by drug-company lobbyist, unwitting state legislators and the Ohio Department of Health, will force each kindergartner in Ohio to receive three hepatitis B vaccinations by this fall. The mandate will eventually cover all students.

Meanwhile, Frace has stopped giving the shots due to evidence that they can cause neurological disorders.

In the United States, hepatitis B is basically an adult lifestyle liver disease of promiscuous homosexuals, heterosexuals and intravenous drug abusers. Blood transfusion recipients and infants born to infected mothers comprise a small percentage of total cases.

The disease is essentially unknown before the age of 10 years. The Ohio Department of Health has never reported transmission in an Ohio school because hepatitis B is not spread by casual contact.

One-fourth of the nation’s cases are concentrated in New York and California (source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).

Based on the assumption that all babies may grow up to be drug addicts and/or engage in promiscuous sex, federal vaccine bureaucrats recommended in 1991 that all newborns receive hepatitis B vaccine before leaving the hospital, with two more doses before their first birthday.

Vaccine not cost-effective

To vaccinate 170,000 children, the approximate number of Ohio kindergartners, with three doses of hepatitis B vaccine would cost an estimated $7 million. This figure represents only vaccine purchases and does not include administration fees and office visits paid by private-sector patients. These latter fees can exceed $2 million.

Thus, according to government statistics, this $9 million yearly price tag might possibly prevent only one or two hepatitis B-associated deaths 40 or more years in the future. This assumes the vaccine is 100 percent effective, which it is not. No evidence exists that the vaccine’s protection would last into the teen and adult years.

Ohio already has a very low incidence of hepatitis B, without mandatory hepatitis B vaccination: Nearly two-thirds of Ohio’s counties reported no new hepatitis B cases in 1996 or 1997.

Of 120 new Ohio hepatitis B cases reported in 1996, zero cases occurred in children under age 10. Similarly, in 1997, only two of Ohio’s 94 reported cases occurred in children under age 10 (and one case was an infant who presumably acquired the disease from an infected mother). More than 99.7 percent of Ohioans do not carry the virus (source: Ohio Department of Health).

Law by deception and lobbyist

The history of Ohio’s hepatitis B vaccine legislation reflects a direct effort to shield the bill from the public eye. In response to drug-company lobbying, Senate Health Committee Chairwoman, Grace Drake, R-Solon, sponsored Senate Bill 251, intending to mandate hepatitis B vaccine for all kindergartners in fall 1999. Upon its introduction on May 19, 1998, S.B. 251 was assigned to the Senate Education Committee.

That same day, again in response to drug-company lobbying, House Health Committee Chairman Dale Van Vyven, R-Sharonville, amended Substitute S.B. 153 (a hazardous-waste bill passed three months earlier) on the House floor to include the S.B. 251 language.

With no discussion or study, the House immediately passed Substitute S.B. 153. One July 1, Gov. George Voinovich signed the bill.

Why were Ohio children denied even minimal legislative review before the mandatory hepatitis B vaccine was enacted? This [ast sprint New Jersey Gov. Christine Todd Whitman pocket-vetoed mandatory hepatitis B vaccine legislation because of insufficient studies.

Citizens become discouraged when corporate lobbying by vaccine manufacturers results in the deceptive passage of laws that financially benefit these companies.

Nowhere in the 1998 Ohio legislative status sheets was it noted that S.B. 251 had been buried in a hazardous-waste bill. As of late November, even Senate Education Committee Chairman Robert Gardner was unaware that his committee had been circumvented. Such actions also appear to violate Article II, Section 15(d) of Ohio’s constitution, which bars legislators from combining bills with different subject matters.

Mandate is part of a pattern

This is not the first case of deception relating to vaccine mandates. Ohio’s 1992 second-doze MMR *Measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine mandate for seventh-graders was never passed by the legislature (it failed in committee hearings). To bypass the legislature, the Ohio Department of Health mandated the vaccine through a director’s journal entry, ignoring state rule-making procedures.

While the legislators involved in enacting the hepatitis B mandate had noble intentions, legislative committee hearings, open to the public, could have revealed valuable information purposely avoided by this stealthy enactment. As more sexually transmitted disease vaccines become licensed, can we expect further subterfuge in health-care legislation?

For parents who religious convictions tell them a healthy, wholesome lifestyle, including refraining from illicit drugs and premartial sexual intercourse, is the best prevention against hepatitis B, the legislature provided a limited exempted in the Ohio (Ohio Revised Code 3313.67 – available at your public library).

Vaccine policy has gone too far. Public health concerns do not warrant hepatitis B vaccine for all Ohio’s children. The only proper action is to rescind the hepatitis B vaccine mandate and hold public legislative hearings on the issue. Let your state lawmakers in Columbus know that you disapprove of highly paid pharmaceutical lobbyist controlling your family’s private medical decisions.

--

Kristine M. Severyn, a registered pharmacist with a PH.D in biopharmaceutics, is director of Ohio Parents for Vaccine Safety, a national nonprofit organization based in Dayton. To receive the organization’s general information packet, write to Ohio Parents for Vaccine Safety at 251 W. Ridgeway Drive, Dayton, Ohio 45459; or call (937) 435-4750.