A case-control study of serious autoimmune adverse events following hepatitis B immunization.
Autoimmunity. 2005 Jun;38(4):295-301. PMID: 16206512
MedCon, Inc., Silver Spring, MD 20905, USA.
Hepatitis B infection is one of the most important causes of acute and chronic liver disease. During the 1980s, genetically engineered hepatitis B vaccines (HBVs) were introduced in the United States. A large-series of serious autoimmune conditions have been reported following HBVs, despite the fact that HBVs have been reported to be "generally well-tolerated." A case-control epidemiological study was conducted to evaluate serious autoimmune adverse events prospectively reported to the vaccine adverse events reporting system (VAERS) database following HBVs, in comparison to an age, sex, and vaccine year matched unexposed tetanus-containing vaccine (TCV) group for conditions that have been previously identified on an a priori basis from case-reports. Adults receiving HBV had significantly increased odds ratios (OR) for multiple sclerosis (OR = 5.2, p<0.0003, 95% Confidence Interval (CI) = 1.9 - 20), optic neuritis (OR = 14, p<0.0002, 95% CI = 2.3 - 560), vasculitis (OR = 2.6, p<0.04, 95% CI = 1.03 - 8.7), arthritis (OR = 2.01, p<0.0003, 95% CI = 1.3 - 3.1), alopecia (OR = 7.2, p<0.0001, 95% CI = 3.2 - 20), lupus erythematosus (OR = 9.1, p<0.0001, 95% CI = 2.3 - 76), rheumatoid arthritis (OR = 18, p<0.0001, 95% CI = 3.1 - 740), and thrombocytopenia (OR = 2.3, p<0.04, 95% CI = 1.02 - 6.2) in comparison to the TCV group. Minimal confounding or systematic error was observed. Despite the negative findings of the present study regarding the rare serious adverse effects of HBVs, it is clear that HBV does, indeed, offer significant benefits, but it is also clear that chances of exposure to hepatitis B virus in adults is largely life-style dependent. Adults should make an informed consent decision, weighing the risks and benefits of HBV, as to whether or not to be immunized.