My daughter Lyla Rose Belkin died on September 16, 1998 at the age of five weeks, shortly after receiving a Hepatitis B vaccine booster shot.
The following comments are intended to be a heads up to parents and potential parents about the risks of the Hepatitis B vaccine (HBV), and a firsthand report questioning the scientific legitimacy of the vaccine industry, which provides $800 million of annual revenue to Merck -- the company which makes the Hepatitis B vaccine distributed in the US.
Lyla Rose Belkin was a lively, alert five-week-old baby when I last held her in my arms. Little did I imagine as she gazed intently into my eyes with all the innocence and wonder of a newborn child that she would die that night. She was never ill before receiving the Hepatitis B shot that afternoon. At her final feeding that night, she was agitated and feisty -- and then fell asleep and didnít wake up. The autopsy ruled out choking. A swollen brain was the only abnormal finding.
Most doctors I spoke to at the time said it must have been Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), a catch-all diagnosis for unexplainable childhood mortality. The first instinctive reaction in such a situation is for parents to blame themselves. For many weeks, my wife and I agonized over what we might have missed or could have done differently. Meanwhile, the logical part of my brain kept returning to the obvious medical event that preceded Lylaís death -- and that internal voice kept asking the question could the Hepatitis B vaccine that Lyla received that afternoon have killed her? Most doctors I asked scoffed at that notion and said the vaccine was perfectly safe. But I began to search around on the Internet and Medline and discovered disturbing evidence of adverse reactions to this vaccine.
In the US, the Hepatitis B disease mainly infects intravenous drug users, homosexuals, prostitutes and promiscuous heterosexuals. The disease is transmitted by blood, through sex or dirty needles. How could a newborn baby possibly get Hepatitis B if the mother was screened and tested negative, as my wife was? It is almost impossible. Unless a newborn child is having unprotected sex or sharing needles with an infected junkie, it is extremely unlikely to get the Hepatitis B disease. So then why are most U.S. babies inoculated at birth by their hospital or pediatrician with the Hepatitis B vaccine?
That is a question every parent should ask before getting this vaccination. Iíve discovered the answer is an unrestrained health bureaucracy decided it couldnít get junkies, gays, prostitutes and promiscuous heterosexuals to take the Hepatitis B vaccine so they mandated that all babies must be vaccinated at birth. Drug companies such as Merck (reaching for new markets) were instrumental in pushing government scientists to adopt an at-birth Hepatitis B vaccination policy, although the vaccine was never tested in newborns and no vaccines had ever been mandated at birth before. It is widely recognized that newborns have underdeveloped immune systems, which can be overwhelmed or shocked.
My search for answers about a link between the Hepatitis B vaccine and my daughterís death led me to a Hepatitis B vaccine workshop on October 26th at the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), Institute of Medicine entitled Vaccine Safety Forum -- Neonatal Deaths. The NAS was concerned enough about reports of Hepatitis B vaccine-related infant deaths and adverse reactions to hold a special workshop on the subject. Doctors and scientists flew in from all over the U.S. and Europe to attend. I sat in the back and soaked it all up. It was a real eye-opener. There were basically four constituencies represented: 1) Serious scientists observing or presenting research studies. 2) Center for Disease Control (CDC) pseudo-statisticians and FDA officials. 3) Merck and other corporate drug officials, and 4) Parents of vaccine-related dead or severely injured children.
The presentations included a study of Animal Models of Newborn Response to Antigen Presentation, which showed that newborn immune systems were undeveloped and strikingly different than those of adults. The message I received was that immune response in a newborn to shocks such as being injected with a vaccine was potentially unknown, since newborn T-Cells have a radically different behavior then those of adults. Another presentation was Strategies for Evaluating the Biologic Mechanisms of Hepatitis B Vaccine Reactions, in which vaccine researcher Dr. Bonnie Dunbar of Baylor College related numerous Hepatitis B-vaccine related cases of nervous system damage in adults, such as Multiple Sclerosis, seizures and blindness. On the more positive side, the FDA presented a seemingly reassuring study from its Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS), which showed only 19 neonatal deaths reported since 1991 related to Hepatitis B vaccination.
I found the VAERS study data to be completely deceptive. Since I was sitting in that room and my daughter had died during their sample period and wasnít counted -- I wondered why. In fact, the New York City Coroner called VAERS to report my daughterís Hepatitis B Vaccine-related infant death and no one ever returned their call! What kind of reporting system doesnít return the calls of the NY City Medical Examiner -- and how many other reports were ignored? This is supposed to be the emergency 911 number for disasters such as bad lots of vaccine that could poison thousands of other babies. With the personal knowledge that the VAERS data was completely flawed, I sat in that room and listened in amazement as CDC officials and Dr. Sharrar of Merck (their head of vaccine safety) made disparaging comments about any possible risk from Hepatitis B vaccination, despite the evidence just presented by impartial scientists.
I studied statistics and econometrics at UC Berkeley and have developed innovative methods of applying probability to financial and economic data in my consulting business with some of the largest financial institutions in the world. That training and experience qualifies me to criticize the statistical legitimacy of the VAERS study, on which Sharrar of Merck and the CDC pseudo-scientists based their pro-vaccination stance. Their comments were scathingly dismissive of any possible risk from the vaccine. But that VAERS study is not a legitimate sample of a data set from which any conclusions about the larger population can be made. VAERS doesnít return coronerís calls, leading to the suspicion that deaths and adverse effects from vaccination are woefully under-reported. To conclude that the Hepatitis B vaccine is safe because VAERS only reports 19 deaths is scientific fraud. In fact, I obtained the raw data from the VAERS system and found 54 reported SIDS cases after Hepatitis B vaccination in just the 18 months from January 1996 to May 1997. Thatís almost 15 times as many deaths per year as their own flawed study reported. There are 17,000 reports of adverse reactions to Hepatitis B vaccine in the 1996-97 raw data. Clearly, something is fishy about VAERS. VAERS was set up by the FDA and CDC and is supposed to be monitored by vaccine manufacturers. If there are 17,000 reports and VAERS doesnít even return the NY Medical Examinerís call, how many other deaths and injuries go unreported? I came away from that NAS workshop with the distinct impression that Merck and the CDC didnít know and didnít really want to know how many babies are being killed or injured by Hepatitis B vaccination. This is a bureaucratic vaccination program that is on auto-pilot flying into a mountain. The CDC bureaucrats have a vested interest in the status quo. If there were 17,000 reports of a dangerous disease in a 18 month period, the CDC would be all over the case. But when there are 17,000 reports of adverse reactions to a vaccine the CDC advocates for ďpublic health,Ē the CDC dismisses it as a coincidence. Merck charges $50 a shot for the three-shot series. Where do you think the allegiance of their vaccine safety official Dr. Sharrar lies? He was by far the most arrogant character at the workshop. Merck has sales of upwards of $800 million a year from vaccines.
Vaccination can be a lifesaver if an epidemic is raging, but in this case the risk of vaccination outweighs the risk of infants getting the disease. Surely, the hepatitis B vaccine doesnít injure every child that gets it, but in some unknown number of cases, it appears to be a death sentence and/or a nervous system toxin to innocent children who are at no risk of getting the disease the vaccine is supposed to protect against. My observations of Merck and CDC scientists at the Vaccine Safety Forum left me with the distinct impression that they had absolutely no idea which babies might be killed or injured by this vaccine. Furthermore, they used obviously flawed scientific data to arrogantly steamroller any opposition to their power. Parents should beaware that the Hepatitis B vaccine is not administered for the well-being of their child. Rather, it is delivered by the long arm of some incompetent and mindless bureaucracy in the name of stamping out a disease most babies canít possibly get. The Drug Company/CDC/FDA alliance has really pulled the wool over the medical professionís eyes with the Hepatitis B vaccine. The American Pediatric Society bought the allianceís sales pitch and now recommends that all infants get this vaccine at birth. So now the first thing most babies get in life is a shock to their immune system from a vaccine against a non-existent risk of contracting Hepatitis B. Clearly, the interests of newborn babies were not represented on the original panel that created this vaccination policy in 1991. This vaccine has no benefit whatsoever for newborns, in fact it wears off and they will need booster shots later in life when they actually could get exposed to the disease.
This is simply a case of ravenous corporate greed and mindless bureaucracy teaming up to overwhelm common sense. Merck in particular has gone way over the edge with this vaccination program. Ignoring and suppressing reports of adverse reactions to their profitable Hepatitis B vaccine verges on criminal conduct. A major media organization will soon present an investigative report on the issues discussed here. Nothing will ever bring my lovely daughter Lyla back, but other needless deaths and injuries can be prevented if this senseless Hepatitis B newborn vaccination program is halted. Please contact Belkin Limited in New York City if you are aware of other infant deaths that may be related to the Hepatitis B vaccine.