News FocusImmunology

A Shadow Falls on Hepatitis B Vaccination Effort

Science  31 Jul 1998:
Vol. 281, Issue 5377, pp. 630-631
DOI: 10.1126/science.281.5377.630

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In the 1980s, public health officials in Europe and the United States mandated hepatitis B immunization of adults in high-risk categories, such as health care workers, and, in 1991, all newborns. Critics are now blaming the widely used vaccine for many ills, including autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis. To back up their claims, they mainly cite anecdotes and a theory of molecular mimicry, similar to one proposed for Lyme disease arthritis (see pp. 631 and 703)--but scant data. Vaccine safety officials interviewed by Science say they've seen no evidence that autoimmune diseases are appearing at a higher rate among vaccinated people. Nevertheless, several groups are seeking compensation from governments and manufacturers or demanding an end to mandatory vaccination.