If you believe that doctors give babies Hepatitis B vaccines so they don't catch the disease through unprotected sex--like Laid-Off Dad suggested--then you probably also believe that you can get AIDS from a toliet seat. Wrong and wrong.
Many people who get Hepatitis B--including children--don't engage in high-risk behaviors (sharing needles or having unprotected sex) that LOD used as example for not vaccinating his kids. The risks are not as easily preventable or as straight forward.
There is a misconception that young children only get Hepatitis B from their infected mothers during birth. But that is wrong. Before the vaccine for Hepatitis B was introduced in the United States in 1982, there were 25,000 cases a year in children less than five years of age, and 75 percent of them did NOT get it at birth.
While many early childhood transmissions occur in households of people with the infection (about 1.25 million people currently have HBV in the US), transmission is linked to child day care centers, schools, playgrounds, and contact sports.
LOD also mentioned that he's holding off on vaccines because he doesn't want to expose his kids to thimerosal, a preservative that contains mercury and is an ingredient in some vaccines. Many anti-vaccination advocates believe mercury from vaccines accounts for a rise in autism. However, no study has found any difference in the rate of autism between kids who were exposed to little or no thimerosal and those who received the maximum exposure through vaccines.
If mercury is the real issue, concerned parents should focus on a proven threat, like dangerous levels of mercury in our food. Every year, 630,000 children are exposed to unsafe mercury levels in the womb, which could damage babies' developing nervous systems.
So even though some vaccine ingredients score high on the Disgusting Meter and others--if accidentally ingested in large quantities (like antifreeze)--require a call to Poison Control, I'm thankful someone assembled them into safe, single-serving-sized shots for my kid.