Hepatitis B Vaccination
- Low risk
- Moderate risk
- High risk
Hepatitis B is an infection caused by the hepatitis B virus, which is highly contagious and is spread through contaminated blood via needle sharing, blood transfusions, injections and unprotected sexual intercourse with an infected person. People can also be infected through unhygienic and unclean practices of tattooing, body piercing, acupuncture and at barbershops and nail salons. The virus can be passed from mother to baby.
Where is hepatitis B found?
Hepatitis B is found throughout the world. High risk areas include sub-Saharan Africa, most of Asia, South America and the Pacific islands.
1. You can prevent getting hepatitis B by avoiding risky behaviour e.g. unprotected sex, tattoos, body piercings, visiting traditional barbers in high risk destinations. Dental and surgical procedures should also be avoided in high risk areas.
2. It is advisable to take extra precautions even if you are vaccinated including understanding the status of sexual partners, practicing safe sex and using protection during sexual intercourse.
3. Vaccination is the best protection against hepatitis B.
There is no specific treatment or cure for hepatitis B, so treatment is usually supportive. People who are diagnosed with hepatitis B need to be monitored closely for any signs of liver failure.
The hepatitis B vaccine is administered in either two to four doses. The immunity developed after the vaccine is predicted to last for at least 25 years.
It is advisable to get vaccinated at least six months before travelling so that there is enough time for the course to be completed and immunity confirmed with a blood test. Plus it is best practice that the last dose is administered a few months before you travel. However, an accelerated course is available consisting of 3 doses within 28 days. The doctor or nurse will advise on the best schedule for your circumstances.
EnergixB is the vaccine which helps to protect against hepatitis B. The hepatitis B vaccine is also available in a preparation that combines it with hepatitis A vaccine: Ambirix, Twinrix and Twinrix Paediatric.
The vaccine is recommended for people travelling to high risk places where hepatitis B may occur as well as for occupational health reasons for those at risk of blood-borne disease (eg. hospital workers, doctors, dentists, nurses, care workers, mortuary workers, sewer workers etc). At Cosmopolitan Medical Clinic, our doctor or nurse will advise if you should consider having this vaccine. Women who are either pregnant or breastfeeding should discuss their itinerary and risk profile with our travel nurse.