Your chances of getting Hepatitis B are less if you or your child get the vaccine. Hepatitis B is an infection of the liver caused by a germ called the hepatitis B virus (HBV). It enters the body during sex, or when sharing things like toothbrushes, razors or needles used to give drugs. A baby can get HBV from its birth mother. A care giver may get it from the blood of an infected patient that enters his / her body by way of a cut or needle stick. Once the virus enters the body it infects the liver. It can make you very sick.
About Hepatitis B Virus
Over half the people who become infected with HBV never get sick. But some of them may later have long-term liver disease from their infection.
About 300,000 children and adults in the U.S. become infected with HBV every year. More than 10,000 of them need to be put in the hospital, and 250 die. Most of these people die from liver failure.
There are 2 phases of the disease, the acute phase and the chronic phase:
Lasts a short time, usually a few weeks to several months. Some people may get better after this phase. You may not feel like eating, may feel very tired, sick to your stomach, throw-up, and have stomach pain.
Your urine may look dark yellow, and your skin and eyes may look yellow. This is called jaundice. You can also have skin rashes and joint pain.
Some people who are infected with HBV, 6 to 10% become “chronic carriers.” They usually don’t have symptoms, but the virus stays in their liver and blood. They spread the virus to others and can get long-term liver disease.
Who Becomes A Chronic Carrier?
- Of every 100 young adults who get HBV, 6 to 10% become chronic carriers.
- Of every 10 babies who are infected at birth, up to 9 will become chronic HBV carriers.
- The younger a child is when the infection starts, the more likely that child will be a carrier.
- About 1/4 of HBV carriers get a disease called “chronic active hepatitis.”
- These people may get liver cirrhosis or liver cancer.
About The Vaccine
Why you or your child should get the vaccine: The vaccine is a shot that will keep you or your child from getting HBV. Vaccines have helped lower the number of people who have certain diseases. If people stopped getting vaccinated, many more people would get diseases.
Who Should Get Hepatitis B Vaccine?
- Babies born to infected women or to women who are chronic HBV carriers.
- All babies born to healthy women who are not carriers of HBV.
Special Childhood Populations
Certain groups of children are more likely to get HBV because they or their parents come from areas where HBV is more common. These areas are Asia, Africa, South America, South Pacific and eastern and southern Europe.
Adults And Other Groups
- People who come in contact with blood or blood products in their work.
- Staff working in institutions for the developmentally disabled should get the shot. Any of the residents could be a chronic HBV carrier.
- Hemodialysis patients.
- Gay men.
- People who inject drugs.
- People with medical problems (such as hemophilia).
- People who live with, or have sex with HBV carriers.
- People who have more than 1 sex partner, HBV carriers.
- People who travel to or live in parts of the world where HBV infections are common.
Hepatitis B vaccine is suggested for anyone who has been exposed to hepatitis B. This includes people who have never been vaccinated for Hepatitis B. It also includes people who have had an accident in which HBV infected blood enters their body. Or those who have had sex with someone who has acute hepatitis B.
When Should You Get The Hepatitis B Shot?
Three shots, given on 3 different dates are needed to be fully protected. Your care giver will tell you when the 3 shots will be given. You or your child may have other shots at the same time as the Hepatitis B vaccine. Infants born to women who are infected with HBV should get the hepatitis B vaccine within 12 hours of birth. They should get their 2nd and 3rd shots at 1 and 6 months of age.
What Are The Risks From Getting The Hepatitis B Vaccine?
There are very few risks from taking the Hepatitis B shot. It rarely causes bad problems or death. The risks from taking the vaccine are MUCH SMALLER than are the risks of getting the disease if people stopped getting the vaccine. Pregnant women who are at risk of HBV infection can be given the hepatitis B vaccine. The vaccine should be safe for the unborn baby because it does not contain the live virus. Most people who get hepatitis B shots have no problem. Some people have the following problems.
- The most common problem is soreness where the shot was given.
- Some children get a fever higher than 1 02F or are fussy.
- Give your child acetaminophen or ibuprofen for fever or soreness.
- A bad allergic reaction.
- A long seizure.
- Being less awake or in a coma.
Contact us if you want to learn more about this or other vaccines. Your care giver can give you the vaccine package or suggest other sources of information.