- SAN DIEGO, CA -- Data from France links immunisation against hepatitis B to
the development of autoimmune rheumatoid diseases such as lupus and rheumatoid
arthritis. The rise of autoimmunity following hepatitis B immunisation
in school children and adults has become a major public health concern.
- The data was released at the 62nd annual
meeting of the American College of Rheumatology, held Nov. 8-12, 1998 in
San Diego, CA.
- In October, the Ministry of Health in
France suspended routine hepatitis B immunisation of school children while
continuing hepatitis B immunisation at birth. The reason for this decision
was reportedly the increased risk of autoimmune diseases that has been
associated with the vaccine when it is given starting at school age or
- The data from France links hepatitis
B immunisation to both the development of newly-diagnosed cases of autoimmune
rheumatoid diseases as well as the exacerbation of previously diagnosed
cases that were in remission. This finding is supported by data from Canada
published in September which linked immunisation against hepatitis B to
the development of autoimmune rheumatoid diseases in fire-fighters.
- John Classen, M.D. an immunologist at
Classen Immunotherapies, published papers linking the immunisation against
hepatitis B and other diseases to the development of insulin dependent
diabetes, an autoimmune disease. Dr. Classen's work found that immunisation
starting after two months of life was associated with an increased risk
of autoimmunity compared to starting at birth. Data from a small study
published by the US government appears to support his data and showed that
when hepatitis B immunisation was given starting after two months of life
it was associated with an almost doubling of the risk of diabetes.
- "The data from humans and animals
is very clear, when you stimulate the immune system with vaccines you increase
the risk of autoimmunity and exacerbate smouldering inflammatory conditions,"
Classen said. "Vaccine induced autoimmunity is a major public health
problem because of the number of vaccine doses given and the large percentage
of people with undiagnosed inflammatory conditions. We need to develop
ways of giving vaccines without increasing the risk of autoimmune diseases.
- "The French decision to continue
hepatitis B immunisation at birth while discontinuing immunisation starting
at school age suggests the French Ministry of Health may believe that they
can decrease vaccine induced autoimmunity by giving vaccines starting in
the first month of life. They appear to be accepting our findings."