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Hepatitis B
What we have to say about your health and well being

What is it?

Hepatitis B is a viral infection that affects the liver. It is spread by direct contact with the blood or bodily fluids of an infected person.

Risk areas

Hepatitis B occurs worldwide but it’s distribution is higher in some areas of the world such as:

  • East Asia
  • Sub Saharan Africa
  • Amazon basin
  • Southern parts of Eastern & Central Europe
  • Middle East
  • Indian Subcontinent

The general risk to travellers is low, although certain behaviours or activities increase the risk, especially in areas where Hepatitis B infection is more common. Risk factors include:

  • Unprotected sex
  • Exposure to blood i.e. via healthcare
  • Exposure to contaminated needles through injecting drug use or dental work
  • Contact sports
  • Adoption of children from risk countries
  • Long stay travel

Prevention

Avoiding contact with blood and body fluids can help reduce the risk of transmission. Unprotected sexual intercourse should be avoided, as should tattoos, piercings and other contact to needles (unless sterile). If travelling to remote or poor areas, it may be prudent to carry a sterile medical equipment kit in case of accidents.

Vaccine schedule

There are several well-tolerated hepatitis B vaccines, including combined hepatitis A/B products, and vaccination is recommended for all travellers considered at risk.

Vaccine Schedule Age range

Hepatitis B

3 doses: 0, 1 and 6 months

Accelerated schedule: 0, 1 and 2 months and a fourth dose at 12 months

Super accelerated schedule: 0, 7 and 21 days and a fourth dose at 12 months

Adults from 16 years

Adults from 16 years Adults, 18 years and above

Hepatitis B
(paediatric)

3 doses: 0, 1 and 6 months

Accelerated schedule: 0, 1 and 2 months(with a 4th dose at 12 months for infants at continued risk)

From birth to 15 years

From birth to 15 years

Length of protection

For individuals at continued risk, a single booster dose should be offered, once only, 5 years after primary immunization has been completed. For most travellers that have completed their primary course, a booster at 5 years is usually unnecessary. However, any risk factors that increase risk should be discussed with your Travel Clinic Pharmacist or Nurse.




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