Parents on the run with baby after refusing vaccination

“If you want to save your child from polio, you can pray or you can inoculate… Try science.” – Carl Sagan

(Of course, there is absolutely no reason why you can’t inoculate and pray, if you want to.)

The Brisbane Times reports that a Sydney couple are now fugitives on the run with their two-day-old baby last night after the Department of Community Services [the government’s social services or child protection office] took out a Supreme Court order to have the newborn boy vaccinated against hepatitis B.

The parents fled their home on Thursday to avoid police and DOCS officers after they refused to have their son vaccinated at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital. They told the Herald yesterday that they believed aluminium in the vaccine could cause him more damage than contracting hepatitis B.

The child’s mother, from China, was diagnosed with hepatitis B several years ago, but both parents believe the illness, which can cause liver cancer and cirrhosis, can be managed more effectively than any potential neurological damage from the vaccine.

Vaccinations are not compulsory in Australia but it is government policy in New South Wales that parents of all babies born to hepatitis-B-positive mothers are offered the Hepatitis-B immunoglobulin for the child within 12 hours of birth, and the vaccine, over the usual timeframe.

Without intervention, a mother who is positive for the hepatitis B surface antigen confers a 20% risk of passing the infection to her offspring at birth. This risk is as high as 90% if the mother is also positive for the hepatitis B e antigen.

But he admitted he had also refused to have his daughter vaccinated for hepatitis B after her birth in 2005 and has not had her screened for the illness since. His father, who is a member of the Australian Vaccination Network, which lobbies against compulsory vaccinations for children, said humans were incapable of breaking down aluminium and the vaccinations presented “a lot of dangers and lot of big questions marks”.

But David Isaacs, a professor in pediatric infectious diseases at the Children’s Hospital at Westmead and one of the doctors who contacted DOCs, said the case had angered staff because the baby’s rights were being ignored.

“I am a strong believer in vaccinations being voluntary but not getting this baby vaccinated is a form of child abuse,” he said. “We are talking a potentially major and awful outcome for this child and it is our job to protect children when they can’t make decisions for themselves.”

Professor Isaacs said the baby had a 5 to 40 per cent chance of contracting hepatitis B from its mother and “about 30 per cent of people with hepatitis B will develop cancer or cirrhosis and die young … I don’t understand why these people are willing to sacrifice their child for a warped idea when the benefits far outweigh the risks.”

A little technical background on the vaccine:

The most common Hepatitis-B vaccine contains purified surface antigen of the virus obtained by culturing recombinant Saccharomyces cerevisiae (that’s ordinary yeast, which has been used for baking and brewing for at least 4000 years) cells, which carry the surface antigen gene of the hepatitis B virus. The surface antigen expressed in Saccharomyces cerevisiae cells is purified by several physicochemical steps and formulated as a suspension of the antigen adsorbed on aluminum hydroxide. The procedures used to manufacture the vaccine result in a product that contains no more than 5% yeast protein.

ENGERIX-B is formulated without preservatives such as thiomersal, although certain older vaccines of this type contain it. Each 0.5-mL (pediatric) dose contains 10 mcg of hepatitis B surface antigen adsorbed on 0.25 mg aluminum as aluminum hydroxide. The pediatric formulation contains sodium chloride (9 mg/mL) and phosphate buffers; disodium phosphate dihydrate, 0.98 mg/mL; sodium dihydrogen phosphate dihydrate, 0.71 mg/mL).

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