Assessing and Scheduling Hepatitis B Vaccination
Hepatitis B is a blood-borne viral illness. It is transmitted through intimate sex (where exchange of fluid takes place), blood transfusions, through infected needles or any other way where you get in touch with infected bodily secretions including blood, semen or vaginal fluid.
Hence it is extremely important to protect yourself from infected bodily secretions. But you may take steps to protect yourself from future exposures. This may be achieved by vaccination.
Who Needs to be Immunized?
Anyone who is at a greater risk of exposure needs immunization. High risk individuals include:
- Health care workers, morticians or care givers of patients with Hepatitis B.
- People traveling to places where the prevalence of this disease is high.
- People involved in indiscriminate casual sex.
- Individuals who change their sexual partners frequently.
- Patients receiving too many injections.
- Injectable drug users.
- Hemophiliacs or others who require frequent blood transfusions.
- Babies born to highly infectious mothers.
Three doses of hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) adsorbed on to aluminum hydroxide adjuvant are given. After the first dose, the second dose is administered after a month. The third dose is given after 6 months of the first dose.
People who need quick protection can have a schedule of 0, 7 and 21 days. After this, a booster dose is recommended after an year.
The course gives you lifetime immunity. However, it is recommended that people at high risk should receive booster doses after every five years.
Hepatitis B Immunoglobulin
This gives passive and temporary protection. It is given when immediate protection is required.