The potential link between the hepatitis B vaccine and multiple sclerosis has led the French government to suspend vaccinations in schools, much to the consternation of pro vaccination groups.

Critics of the decision, including the National Union of Paediatricians and the World Health Organisation, argue that the decision may lead to a public loss of confidence in the vaccine and the risk of other countries following suit.

However, French Secretary of State for Health Dr Bernard Kouchner took the decision to ban the jab in light of evidence that the vaccine could cause multiple sclerosis or other forms of central nervous system demyelination. Studies in both France and Britain have shown that, in school aged children, the risk of demyelinating reactions in the central nervous system increases during the two months after vaccination (BMJ, 1998; 317: 1034).

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Written by What Doctors Don't Tell You

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