Hepatitis B is a virus that attacks the liver. It is spread from person to person through contact with infected blood or bodily fluids.
Risk for travelers of being exposed to hepatitis B can include unprotected sex, tattooing or acupunture, injection drug use, poor infection control during medical and dental procedures, and receipt of blood products.
Symptoms of hepatitis B can include tiredness, fever, nausea and vomiting, loss of appetite, abdominal pain and jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes). Many people with hepatitis B do not have any symptoms but it is still possible to pass the virus onto others.
How can I prevent Hepatitis B?
Receiving the hepatitis B vaccine can help to prevent infection with hepatitis B. The vaccine is available on its own or in combination with Hepatitis A (Twinrix).
Who should receive the Hepatitis B vaccine?
The hepatitis B vaccine is provided free to infants as part of the routine vaccine schedule. It is also provided free to individuals born in 1980 or later. It is provided free to individuals at high risk of hepatitis B infections such as health care workers, household or sexual contacts of individuals with hepatitis B, and individuals with certain medical conditions (for a complete list of vaccine eligibility please visit www.healthlinkbc.ca).
The hepatitis B vaccine is recommended but not provided free to individuals visiting countries with a high rate of hepatitis B for more than 6 months, or those having sexual or blood contact with local residents regardless of length of stay.
Hepatitis B vaccine schedule:
The hepatitis B vaccine and Twinrix vaccine (Hepatitis A & Hepatitis B combined) is given in 3 doses at 0, 1 and 6 months.
Protection from the vaccine is long-term (potentially lifetime) once the series is completed. A booster is generally not recommended. Booster doses may be recommended for certain populations.
Call us at 604-251-1975 to arrange an appointment or to receive further information about the Hepatitis B vaccine.