concern over hepatitis B vaccine

  1. Hello,

    I was hoping I could get some opinions on my concerns on this vaccine. I am currently taking pre-requisites to get into a nursing program. Over the past 6 months I have had bizarre medical issues that include numbness in hands and feet, weakness, fatigue, electric shock like sensations etc. I have seen a neurologist and rheumatologist. I am hoping to rule out MS, but we don't really know yet. The MRI looked pretty good, with no obvious lesions.. but there were a couple minor abnormalities. I have an app't at a MS center in the next couple months to get another opinion.

    In the mean time I have realized that I need to get a hepatitis B series of vaccinations to be accepted into any nursing program. I am very conflicted over this. After doing some research online, I have found that there is some controversy over this vaccine. I know there were hearings on the safety of the vaccine at one point and rumors still persist that the vaccine has caused auto immune reactions in people, including people who feel they developed MS and lupus after receiving these (as well as many other disorders). I know there is no hard evidence/studies on this and the evidence is anecdotal... but there seems to be a lot of controvery on the internet.

    Due to my current health problems, I am extremely concerned and do not want to get this vaccine... at least not until they have determined what is wrong with me. My primary care doctor will not write me a waiver to get out of taking the vaccine, even just for a year. She feels there is no proven evidence that shows this has caused any problem. I wonder how she would feel if she had my health problems?

    Another huge concern of mine is that my husband and I want to get pregnant and because this vaccine has to be administered 3 times it would take almost 6 months to fulfill the requirements. I want to try to get pregnant very soon and just do not feel comfortable getting a live vaccine while pregnant... regardless of the fact that it is considered "safe" during pregnancy. I found more information on the internet by mothers who received the vaccine shortly before or during pregnancy and feel it is related to their child developing autism. I have found doctors that are also concerned.

    Am I being overly paranoid here? I feel like my possibly career choice is on the line because of this issue and my anxiety over this. I don't think I could take the chance of getting the vaccine while pregnant and that will prevent me from getting into a nursing program. I also don't want to jeapordize my health situation since they don't know what is wrong with me.

    Thanks for your help....
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  2. 12 Comments

  3. by   BSNtobe2009
    I'm not a nurse, but if it were me, I would have the same concerns about the shot during pregnancy as you are...regardless of what research shows.

    There is also a ton of research on all vaccines and whether they cause autism or a whole laundry list of other conditions.

    The fact remains that there are millions more children who are perfectly healthy from the shots than are not...and with the majority of children in the USA immunized, it's a hard argument for a researcher to make.

    It's a decision that only you can make for yourself. You have to do what you are comfortable with.

    Even the vaccine situation aside, you also have to think about being pregnant while in nursing school and a pregnancy and birth that may or may not be what you planned for.
  4. by   buddiage
    Quote from Tealeaf72
    Hello,

    I was hoping I could get some opinions on my concerns on this vaccine. I am currently taking pre-requisites to get into a nursing program. Over the past 6 months I have had bizarre medical issues that include numbness in hands and feet, weakness, fatigue, electric shock like sensations etc. I have seen a neurologist and rheumatologist. I am hoping to rule out MS, but we don't really know yet. The MRI looked pretty good, with no obvious lesions.. but there were a couple minor abnormalities. I have an app't at a MS center in the next couple months to get another opinion.

    In the mean time I have realized that I need to get a hepatitis B series of vaccinations to be accepted into any nursing program. I am very conflicted over this. After doing some research online, I have found that there is some controversy over this vaccine. I know there were hearings on the safety of the vaccine at one point and rumors still persist that the vaccine has caused auto immune reactions in people, including people who feel they developed MS and lupus after receiving these (as well as many other disorders). I know there is no hard evidence/studies on this and the evidence is anecdotal... but there seems to be a lot of controvery on the internet.

    Due to my current health problems, I am extremely concerned and do not want to get this vaccine... at least not until they have determined what is wrong with me. My primary care doctor will not write me a waiver to get out of taking the vaccine, even just for a year. She feels there is no proven evidence that shows this has caused any problem. I wonder how she would feel if she had my health problems?

    Another huge concern of mine is that my husband and I want to get pregnant and because this vaccine has to be administered 3 times it would take almost 6 months to fulfill the requirements. I want to try to get pregnant very soon and just do not feel comfortable getting a live vaccine while pregnant... regardless of the fact that it is considered "safe" during pregnancy. I found more information on the internet by mothers who received the vaccine shortly before or during pregnancy and feel it is related to their child developing autism. I have found doctors that are also concerned.

    Am I being overly paranoid here? I feel like my possibly career choice is on the line because of this issue and my anxiety over this. I don't think I could take the chance of getting the vaccine while pregnant and that will prevent me from getting into a nursing program. I also don't want to jeapordize my health situation since they don't know what is wrong with me.

    Thanks for your help....
    First of all, don't get pregnant and go to school at the same time. Pick one or the other, and save the other option for the future.

    Secondly, there is a small risk for vaccinations, but the risk of exposure in the hospital is even bigger! I am a student nurse who has had three hepatitis patients in the last semester- and we are only assigned one patient! Life is hazardous to your health- you have a higher chance of exposure and infection if you don't have the vaccine.

    Youe health problems could be aggrivated by a pregnancy. I'd really prioritize on what you want and set a plan out. It might be possible to have your cake and eat it too if you think about it.

    I don't think I'd ever be in a hospital without the vaccine, or it at least started.
  5. by   marilynmom
    No you are not being paranoid. This is one vaccine that I will not get.

    If you look in the medical literature there is quite a bit of controversy about this particular vaccine, and many case studies about the HepB vaccine and things like Guillien-Barre Syndrome, and other autoimmune problems they believe have been caused by the vaccine. I get all my information from the CDC and the medical literature. I would be happy to post some of the med literature about this. The vaccine itself can not cause HepB.

    I have had many HepC patients, very few HepB patients--people tend to focus on HepB because there is a vaccine for it....none of us are staying away from HepC, HIV/AIDS patients are we? We use universal precations and know our risks, most nurses don't contract HepC or HIV, it is very rare (but can happen of course). There are MANY diseases you can potentially get working in health care (MRSA is everywhere, CDiff, etc).

    I am glad there is the vaccine, though I don't choose it for myself and it's not for everyone and it should be a choice. HepB is more easily transfered than HIV, which is something to be aware of as well. The vaccine is not 100% effective and is not lifelong, some people get the vaccine and it doesn't work for them (that is why they recommend you get your titers checked after you get the series to see if it even worked for you). I was able to sign a waiver for this vaccine (most states by law offer philosophical, religious, etc waivers).

    I would just take your time and research this vaccine, that way you can make the best choice for yourself and your health!

    I think it is very easy for others and your Dr to tell you not to worry about this vaccine, when they don't have your health problems and the fact is there is not proof showing this vaccine to be 100% safe.
    Last edit by marilynmom on Dec 9, '06
  6. by   marilynmom
    Quote from buddiage

    I don't think I'd ever be in a hospital without the vaccine, or it at least started.

    What about the HepC and the HIV patients you work with (or will work with, or have worked with but kept their HIV status confidential)? I'm not raggin' on ya just trying to put things into perspective.
  7. by   Jolie
    I understand your concerns and sincerely hope that you will be able to have them adequately addressed by your physician or another healthcare provider. I would suggest that you contact your local health department and ask if they have a physician or nurse practitioner who oversees their vaccination program who could speak to you and offer you advice. I have found the NP in charge of our health department's vaccination program to be a wealth of information. Since this is the entire focus of her practice, she is far more knowledgable that anyone else I have ever consulted.

    Also, I would like to clear up one apparent mis-conception. The hepatitis B vaccine does not contain a live virus. It is a recombinant vaccine, which means that genetic material from HBV is inserted into common yeast where it is grown, harvested and then purified. The hepatitis B vaccine can not cause active infection.
  8. by   marilynmom
    Quote from Tealeaf72
    a live vaccine while pregnant... regardless of the fact that it is considered "safe" during pregnancy. I found more information on the internet by mothers who received the vaccine shortly before or during pregnancy and feel it is related to their child developing autism. I have found doctors that are also concerned.

    ....

    This vaccine is NOT a live virus vaccine like MMR, chickenpox, etc. There is some concern over certain vaccine containing mercury and how that might affect children and the fetus....the jury is still out on that one, but most of the med lit shows no causation at this point though they are still studying it and have removed most (not all--there is still trace amounts) of it from childhood vaccine so that might be what those other women were talking about.

    I know I personally would not feel confortable getting any vaccine while I was pregnant. I just don't feel there hasbeen enough research on that. That is just my opinion though.

    Good luck with your decision. I would stay away from the scare tactics out there, do your own research with the medical literature and the CDC themselves.
  9. by   buddiage
    Quote from marilynmom
    What about the HepC and the HIV patients you work with (or will work with, or have worked with but kept their HIV status confidential)? I'm not raggin' on ya just trying to put things into perspective.
    Within reason....smarty pants...

    Our comfort levels with risk are going to be different amongst eachother. I definately understand the negatives... My comfort level makes me get the vaccine, and that will be one less thing I have to worry about...there will be plenty to worry about, no doubt.
  10. by   GeminiTwinRN
    I can't imagine that your nursing program won't allow you to sign a waiver as opposed to going through the series. In our program, we either took the series (and then had a titer drawn) or signed a waiver. We certainly weren't forced into the series.

    I feel for you if you aren't able to go to school based on a vaccine that should be optional!
  11. by   Lacie
    :uhoh21:
    Quote from buddiage
    First of all, don't get pregnant and go to school at the same time. Pick one or the other, and save the other option for the future.
    Hmm, put it this way, my son was 3 years old when I graduated with my BSN. I found out I was pregnant in my first semester. I agree in not wanting to take the vaccine during pregnancy but the above statement is just - well wrong! Also I will add this, I tested positive for the hep B antibodies and never took the series of vaccinations. Never developed the disease nor am I a carrier thank goodness. If I hadnt had previous exposure and developed my own immunity I would have eventually taken the vaccinations although I wouldnt have done them during pregnancy either.
  12. by   buddiage
    I was misunderstood- it had nothing to do with the shots or hepatitis.

    It was a point of making life easier to not load your plate too full- if you don't have to. That's what I meant by that.
  13. by   Lacie
    Quote from buddiage
    I was misunderstood- it had nothing to do with the shots or hepatitis
    It was a point of making life easier to not load your plate too full- if you don't have to. That's what I meant by that.
    Wheww, LOL thank you for that clarification. I was like what? when I read it. Yes it can be difficult as my child was also one with numerous health problems requiring freq. hospitalizations during my time in school. But it can be done!! My grades suffered to an extent and I suffered from lack of sleep a great deal of the time but I did it lol. But I also fully understand the posters concerns over taking any immunizations during pregnancy. I dont feel it's proper not to allow her a waiver until after the child is born. I would challenge this or appeal it. If you sign something to the affect you wouldnt hold them responsible by not taking it?
  14. by   buddiage
    I thought you could refuse it, but you have to sign something that holds the school and hospitals harmless in the case you do get something.

    I have two fellow students who had babies in the first month of nursing school. I just think, ugh, glad it's not me...that would be pretty difficult.

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