STATEMENT of the ASSOCIATION OF AMERICAN PHYSICIANS
RE: HEPATITIS B VACCINE
Submitted by Jane Orient, M.D.
Mr. Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee:
My name is Jane Orient, M.D. I am a practicing internist from Tucson, Arizona, and serve as the Executive Director of the Association of American Physicians & Surgeons ("AAPS").
AAPS is a nationwide organization of physicians devoted to defending the sanctity of the patient-physician relationship. AAPS revenue is derived almost exclusively from membership dues. We receive no government funding, foundation grants, or revenue from vaccine manufacturers. No members of our governing body (the Board of Directors), have a conflict of interest because of a position with an agency making vaccine policy or any entity deriving profits from mandatory vaccines.
AAPS thanks this Committee and Chairman Mica for leaving the record open for a longer period to permit an opportunity to review the hearing transcript, written testimony, and raw data from the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS).
It is apparent that critical medical decisions for an entire generation of American children are being made by small committees whose members have incestuous ties with agencies that stand to gain power, or manufacturers that stand to gain enormous profits, from the policy that is made. Even if such members recuse themselves from specific votes, they are permitted to participate in discussions and thus influence the decision. Moreover, there is the potential for deal-making. Or there may be a simple disinclination to cause problems for one member's agenda in the expectation that that member will reciprocate.
Once a vaccine is mandated for children, the manufacturer and the physician administering the vaccine are substantially relieved of liability for adverse effects. The relationship of patient and physician is dramatically altered: in administering the vaccine, the physician is serving as the agent of the state. To the extent that the physician simply complies without making an independent evaluation of the appropriateness of the vaccine for each patient, he is abdicating his responsibility under the Oath of Hippocrates to "prescribe regimen for the good of my patients according to my ability and my judgment and never do harm to anyone."
Should a physician advise against a mandated vaccine, he faces increased legal liability should the patient acquire the disease. Moreover, he may risk his very livelihood if he is dependent upon income from "health plans" that use vaccine compliance as a measure of "quality."
It is perhaps not surprising, although still reprehensible, that physicians sometimes behave in a very callous manner toward parents who question the need for certain vaccines.
Federal policy of mandating vaccines marks a profound change in the concept of public health. Traditionally, public health authorities restricted the liberties of individuals only in case of a clear and present danger to public health. For example, individuals infected with a transmissible disease were quarantined. Today, a child may be prevented from attending school or associating with others simply because of being unimmunized. If there is not an outbreak of disease and if the child is uninfected, his or her unimmunized state is not a threat to anyone. An abridgement of civil rights in such cases cannot be justified.
With hepatitis B vaccine, the case for mandatory immunization with few exemptions is far less persuasive than with smallpox or polio vaccines, which protected against highly lethal or disabling, relatively common, and easily transmissible diseases. An intelligent and conscientious physician might well recommend AGAINST hepatitis B vaccine, especially in newborns, unless a baby is at unusual risk because of an infected mother or household contact or membership in a population in which disease is common.
AAPS awaits the release of full information concerning the licensure of hepatitis B vaccine and the mandate for newborn immunizations, as requested under the Freedom of Information Act by the National Vaccine Information Center. It is imperative that independent scientists have the opportunity to review the raw data. In the meantime, all coercive means for increasing the immunization rate should be immediately discontinued. Fully informed consent should be sought before vaccine is administered. This requires full and honest disclosure of the risks and uncertainties of the vaccine, in comparison with the risks of the disease.
Information given to parents about this vaccine often does not meet the requirement for full disclosure. For example, it may state that "getting the disease is far more likely to cause serious illness than getting the vaccine." This may be literally true, but it is seriously misleading if the risk of getting the disease is nearly zero (as is true for most American newborns). It may also be legalistically true that "no serious reactions have been known to occur due to the hepatitis B recombinant vaccine." However, relevant studies have not been done to investigate whether the temporal association of vaccine with serious side effects is purely coincidental or not.
An independent review of the VAERS data; publications by governmental, pro-vaccine, and anti-vaccine groups; and a sample of the medical literature leads to the following conclusions:
Public policy regarding vaccines is fundamentally flawed. It is permeated by conflicts of interest. It is based on poor scientific methodology (including studies that are too small, too short, and too limited in populations represented), which is, moreover, insulated from independent criticism. The evidence is far too poor to warrant overriding the independent judgments of patients, parents, and attending physicians, even if this were ethically or legally acceptable.
AAPS opposes federal mandates for vaccines, on principle, on the grounds that they are:
1. An unconstitutional expansion of the power of the federal government. 2. An unconstitutional delegation of power to a public-private partnership. 3. An unconstitutional and destructive intrusion into the patient-physician and parent-child relationships. 4. A violation of the Nuremberg Code in that they force individuals to have medical treatment against their will, or to participate in the functional equivalent of a vast experiment without fully informed consent. 5. A violation of rights to free speech and to the practice of one's religion (which may require one to keep oaths).
AAPS would specifically oppose the campaign for universal immunization against hepatitis B, even if the above did not apply, because the safety of the vaccine is in question.