Health “freedom” group stigmatizes vaccine for Hepatitis B

A so-called health freedom group in Michigan has falsely claimed that the only people who need the hepatitis B vaccine are sex workers and people who use intravenous drugs. The group argues that children do not need the vaccine, even though children can contract hepatitis B by putting infected items in their mouths or by coming into contact with an infected person’s blood or open wounds. The group’s social media account also shared a newsletter in which the author makes the false claim that children do not face severe outcomes from hepatitis B. The author also incorrectly uses VAERS data to claim that the hepatitis B vaccine is responsible for hundreds of children’s deaths.

Risk level: MediumRecommendation: Social media posts claiming that children do not need the hepatitis B vaccine may deter parents from vaccinating their children against the virus. This may result in negative health outcomes for children and others around them. Talking points may emphasize that vaccinating children against hepatitis B vaccine can prevent them from contracting the virus and protect them from serious illness, hospitalization, and future health problems like liver disease and liver cancer, which can result from a hepatitis B infection. The CDC recommends that children get their first dose of the hepatitis B vaccine shortly after birth, the second dose at 1-2 months, and the third dose at 6-18 months.