Hepatitis B is a liver infection that is spread via bodily fluids or blood.
For example, the virus can be spread by sharing items, such as razors, toothbrushes, and needles with an infected person, or from having unprotected sex, where the virus can be passed from an infected person through semen/vaginal fluids. Another way, and possibly the most common way, a person can catch hepatitis B is by receiving treatment in an unhygienic environment.
When a person has hepatitis B, their liver becomes inflamed, which can affect how the organ functions. Some people may only suffer minor symptoms of hepatitis B, which can last several weeks, but sometimes the symptoms can worsen and it can turn into a lifelong illness.
Possible symptoms of hepatitis B include vomiting, diarrhoea, jaundice, loss of appetite, fatigue, and fever.
Thankfully, there is a hepatitis B vaccine to help prevent catching the virus.
Since Hepatitis B is more common in certain areas of the world, such as Africa and the Pacific Islands, it is recommended that anyone travelling to these areas should ensure they’ve received the vaccine.
If you haven’t been vaccinated against hepatitis B and are required to be before you travel, then here are just a few things you should know about the hepatitis B injection.
The protection from the hepatitis B vaccine usually lasts a lifetime.
The full course, which consists of three doses, should completely cover you, and you will not need any boosters. But only two doses are required for travel; it is only once you’ve had the third dose that you’ll be fully protected for life.
The hepatitis B vaccine is usually offered to babies as part of their vaccination schedule.
However, if you haven’t already received the hepatitis B vaccine, you should arrange to have your first dose at least 28 days before you travel. You’ll need to receive the second dose around one month after the first. This is why you need to ensure that you’ve allowed enough time, arranging your first dose at least 28 days before you travel. The third dose does not need to be received before you travel, but for life long protection, you must ensure that you have it within 6 months of the first dose.
The Hepatitis B vaccine is an inactivated vaccine, so it does not have any live ingredients, or a weakened form of the virus. This means that the injection cannot cause the infection.
Side effects from receiving the hepatitis B vaccine are rare. However, the side effects that can occur are redness, swelling and itching at the injection site. Some people may also suffer from headaches, dizziness, fatigue, irritability, or flu-like symptoms.
It is possible for a person to have an allergic reaction to a vaccine, so this is something to be aware of. Signs of an allergic reaction can include swelling of the face and throat, and/or difficulty breathing.
The hepatitis B vaccine is considered to be very effective by medical professionals.
However, the vaccine can be less effective on people who have liver disease, or for those who smoke, drink large amounts of alcohol, or who are obese.
To those who haven’t responded to the vaccine, or for those who are vulnerable, extra doses can be given.
You can get a hepatitis B vaccine at almost any GP surgery or private clinic. The Travel Health Clinic offers the vaccination against hepatitis B as well as other vaccines.
As previously mentioned, the hepatitis B vaccine is usually administered as part of the childhood vaccination schedule. However, you may not have received the vaccine for some reason, so it’s worth checking with your doctor to see if you have been vaccinated against hepatitis B.
If you haven’t received the hepatitis B vaccine, then general practitioners and private clinics will usually administer the vaccine if they think you are at risk of infection. For example, if you have recently travelled to an infected area without having the vaccine. In this incidence, it should be administered free of charge.
Generally, if you aren’t considered vulnerable, the cost of a hepatitis B vaccine in the UK is around £50 per dose.
If you choose to book your hepatitis B vaccination with The Travel Health Clinic, the price will be £40 per dose.
The Travel Health Clinic has several branches, so if you’d like to plan your vaccination, find your nearest clinic today.