My understanding from reading the local news here in Maryland is that this school district has been trying to get these children to immunized for over 2 years.
I am very pro-vaccination. I don't want any child going to school or being around my children that has not been vaccinated.
This article focused on the Hep B vaccine, so I thought I would share some the information from the AMA.
What is hepatitis B?
Hepatitis B is a serious disease that is caused by the hepatitis B virus (HBV) which usually exists in the blood and bodily fluids of the infected (or HBV+) person. The virus infects people of all ages and every year, about 200,000 people are newly infected in the United States. Of this 200,000, 90% eventually recover and clear the virus, but over 11,000 will have to be hospitalized and over 20,000 (10%) will become chronically (permanently) infected with the virus. About 1.25 million people in the United States have chronic HBV infection, and more than 4,000 people die each year from hepatitis B related liver disease. Before the introduction of the hepatitis B vaccine, over 30,000 children were infected annually, and it is estimated that about a third of our current chronic HBV infections are persons infected either as children or infants prior to the introduction of the hepatitis B vaccine. In fact, the younger a child is at the time of infection with HBV, the greater the likelihood that the child will become chronically infected and be at greater risk for liver disease as an adult.
Why is vaccination recommended for all children as opposed to children living in families where there is the highest risk of HBV infection?
Routine vaccination of all children and adolescents is recommended because a major part of the disease burden of HBV is due to the large number of HBV infections that occur among children. As discussed earlier, a significant number of our chronic carriers of HBV were infected as children and if it were not for the vaccine, over 30,000 children would be infected annually. Most of these infections occur among children of mothers who are not infected with HBV and thus cannot be protected by perinatal hepatitis B prevention programs. Additionally, it is impossible to identify and selectively vaccinate only those children who would be at risk for HBV infection.
While it is true that most HBV infections occur in older adolescents and adults, it has been difficult to reduce the incidence of new HBV infections by selectively vaccinating older adolescents/adults in high-risk groups. In fact, over 30% of people infected with HBV have no idea where they might have got their infection! By vaccinating children for hepatitis B, they will now be protected against HBV infection when they become older adolescents and adults.
What are possible serious side effects?
Serious side effects after administration of the hepatitis B vaccine are extremely rare. There have been some anecdotal reports of the association of hepatitis B vaccination with chronic illness such as autoimmune disorders. However, there have been no scientific data supporting these claims. Large-scale immunization exercises have been ongoing in many other countries and in the United States, and thus far there has been no association of hepatitis B vaccination with serious adverse events. No clear association has been demonstrated between hepatitis B vaccination and disorders such as Guillain-Barre syndrome, transverse myelitis, optic neuritis, and seizures. Even then, such alleged associations are still being studied to further ensure the safety of the vaccine. A recent study demonstrated that persons who developed rheumatoid arthritis following hepatitis B vaccination were actually genetically susceptible to rheumatoid arthritis, making it difficult to correlate the occurrence of rheumatoid arthritis with hepatitis B vaccination. Considering the large number of doses of HBV vaccine administered and the very low numbers of serious adverse reactions, it is possible that adverse reactions reported after hepatitis B vaccination may represent coincidence rather than causation.
Finally, as with any vaccination, the risk of anaphylaxis (hives, difficulty breathing, shock) is a real. There is an estimated incidence of about 1 anaphylactic reaction per 600,000 vaccine doses distributed. Thus, further administration of hepatitis B vaccine would be contraindicated (not recommended) for persons who have demonstrated a previous anaphylactic reaction following a previous dose of hepatitis B vaccine.
Any presumed risk of adverse side effects associated with the hepatitis B vaccine must be balanced with the expected 4,000 to 5,000 chronic HBV-related deaths and 30,000 childhood HBV infections that would occur in the absence of HBV immunization. Given the frequency and severity of hepatitis B infection, the benefits of vaccination far outweigh the known and potential risks.
What is the relationship between hepatitis B vaccination and multiple sclerosis (MS)?
Currently, there are NO scientific data that supports such an association. An expert panel convened by the World Health Organization (WHO) in September 1998 analyzed all available data on hepatitis B vaccine and concluded, "No evidence presented at this meeting indicates a need to change public health policies with respect to HBV immunization."
This is just selected excerpts from AMA website.
And before it comes up here is the CDC information with several links debunking the autism-vaccine link. http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/faq_vaccines.htm