Issue Number 47
January 20, 1999
CONTENTS OF THIS ISSUE
- 20/20 will air hepatitis B vaccine
news story on Friday
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January 22, 1999
UPDATE: 20/20 WILL AIR HEPATITIS B VACCINE NEWS STORY ON FRIDAY
The ABC 20/20 news story on hepatitis B vaccine that was postponed last week is now
rescheduled to air on Friday, January 22, at 10 p.m., EST. According to the Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the program is likely to focus on alleged adverse
events associated with hepatitis B vaccine.
Any member of the media who contacts you and wishes to speak with
a CDC expert regarding this broadcast should be referred to CDC's Media Relations Division
(404-639-3286). The Media Relations
Division can direct reporters to CDC's hepatitis B vaccine and vaccine safety experts. You
may also want to refer members of the media to the website links listed below or consider
forwarding them this e-mail.
CDC is also very interested in how many calls you or your organization receive as a result
of this national news story as well as the nature of those inquiries. This information
will help CDC better serve you and your patients/clients. E-mail this information to Glen
Nowak, Associate Director for Communications at the National Immunization Program, at firstname.lastname@example.org or click here: mailto:email@example.com
The following information on the 20/20 broadcast was sent to IAC EXPRESS subscribers on
January 11. It includes information about where to obtain reliable information on the
safety and efficacy of hepatitis B vaccine.
In a letter dated January 8, Walter A. Orenstein, M.D.,
M.P.H., Assistant Surgeon General, Director, National Immunization Program, CDC, wrote the
"From interview questions, we surmise that 20/20's
story is likely to focus on alleged adverse events associated with hepatitis B vaccine
(e.g., multiple sclerosis, chronic fatigue syndrome, optic neuritis, Lupus). We also know
that the 20/20 reporters contacted states to learn more about laws requiring hepatitis B
To assist health professionals in responding to questions generated by the story, CDC
released a message from Dr. Orenstein. The message appears on CDC's website and is dated
January 8. It reads as follows:
"Infant, adolescent, and adult immunization plays an important role in disease
prevention and reduction. Although no vaccine is perfect, the benefits of immunization far
outweigh the risks. Thanks to vaccines, fewer cases of vaccine-preventable diseases were
reported in 1998 than in any previous year. In addition, recent changes in the nation's
vaccine recommendations have made immunizations even safer.
"The National Immunization Program is committed to strengthening vaccine programs and
further improving disease prevention. Vaccine safety is constantly monitored and vaccine
safety concerns are being investigated and addressed.
"Today, thanks to their relative rarity, it is easy to forget that
vaccine-preventable diseases can cause lasting brain damage, liver cancer, paralysis, and
premature death. It is important to remember, however, vaccines are the primary reason
there are so few cases of such childhood diseases as measles, whooping cough, rubella
(German measles), and hepatitis B."
CDC has also included a list of links on their website that will provide you with more
information about hepatitis B vaccine. You can click on any of the following items or you
can click here http://www.cdc.gov/nip/news/1-8-99.htm
and receive the list of links as well as the above message.
1. General information on hepatitis B vaccine, http://www.cdc.gov/nip/news/messhepb.htm
2. Questions and answers on hepatitis B vaccine,
3. Questions and answers on vaccine safety,
4. Vaccine safety and injury compensation,
5. "What Would Happen If We Stopped
6. A recent statement on the importance of immunization by
Donna Shalala, Secretary, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, http://www.cdc.gov/nip/news/shalala.htm
7. A list of contact telephone numbers and Internet sites
that can be accessed to provide more information.
Current information on hepatitis and the hepatitis B
vaccine can also be obtained by contacting:
National Immunization Information Hotline (1-800-232-2522) Hepatitis Hotline
National Immunization Program website at http://www.cdc.gov/nip
Hepatitis Branch website at http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/diseases/hepatitis/index.htm