Hepatitis B is a liver disease caused by the hepatitis B virus. It is very common in Nigeria. It can spread from infected people to others. It is a disease that can last for a long time and lead to severe complications like liver cirrhosis (liver damage) and liver cancer. However, it can be prevented by vaccination.
Hepatitis B vaccine is made from parts of the hepatitis B virus. It cannot cause hepatitis B infection. Under the National Program on Immunization in Nigeria, hepatitis B vaccine is administered at birth (HBV 1). At the 6th, 10th and 14th week of an infant's life, a pentavalent 5-in-1 vaccine which includes the hepatitis B vaccine is administered.
The hepatitis B vaccine schedule consists of 3 doses. The second dose must be given at least 1 month after the first dose. The third dose must be given at least 2 months after the second dose and 4 months after the first dose. If you miss a dose or get behind schedule get the next dose as soon as possible; do not start over. Booster doses of hepatitis B vaccines are for patients on haemodialysis and people with suppressed immunity.
Who Should Get The Vaccine?
Children and adolescents who have not been vaccinated should get the vaccine. Unvaccinated adults who are at risk of hepatitis B infection should also be vaccinated. High-risk individuals include:
- People who share needles,
- Syringes and other sharp objects,
- People who have close contact with someone infected with the hepatitis B virus,
- People traveling to countries where hepatitis B is common,
- Sexually active people who are not in a long-term monogamous relationship,
- People whose sex partners have hepatitis B,
- Men who have sexual contact with other men,
- Health care workers,
- Victims of sexual assault or abuse etc.
If you are ill or have experienced a life-threatening allergic reaction after taking a dose of hepatitis B vaccine in the past, you should consult your doctor before getting vaccinated. Most people given hepatitis B vaccine do not have any side effects. Getting the hepatitis B vaccine is much safer than getting hepatitis B disease.
Article By: Dr Toye Mariam