Hepatitis B vaccine
Hepatitis B is a viral disease that affects the liver and causes inflammation. It causes symptoms such as fever, nausea, joint pain and loss of appetite. You can also develop the typical signs of hepatitis with yellowish skin and whites of the eyes. However, some infected people do not experience any of these symptoms in the acute phase of the disease. About 5-10% of those who have been infected develop a chronic form of the disease, and of these, another quarter develop cirrhosis of the liver or liver cancer. The younger the person is at the time of infection, the greater the risk of developing chronic hepatitis B. The incubation period for hepatitis B, ie the time from infection to disease, is relatively long – about 1-2 months.
The virus can be transmitted from both those who are acutely ill and chronic carriers. Infection occurs via blood or body fluids, e.g. through blood transfusions, unprotected sex, syringe needles, piercings, tattoos or acupuncture.
Risk areas for Hepatitis B
Hepatitis B occurs worldwide. In Sweden, Western Europe and the USA, the risk of contracting Hepatitis B is relatively small, but globally it is a common disease. In some parts of the world, as many as 15-20% are chronic carriers and a majority of the rest of the population has at some point been exposed to infection. The highest incidence of hepatitis B virus carriers is seen in sub-Saharan Africa and in Southeast Asia.
Who should be vaccinated against Hepatitis B?
People who are to stay for a longer period (3-4 weeks or longer) in a risk area should be vaccinated, but also if travel to risk areas takes place regularly. This is especially important if you may have unprotected sex with a new partner, are at risk of pinpricks – for example if you have a disease that requires it, or if you will get a tattoo or pierce yourself – or if you are going to work in a sector with a high risk of infection, such as care or medical care.
Vaccination against Hepatitis B
Vaccination against hepatitis B normally takes place in three intervals. The first dose should be given at least one month before you travel to the risk area because after one month you should take dose two to get protection for up to a year. After a third dose taken 6-12 months after the second dose, you will have lifelong protection against hepatitis B. This applies to both children and adults.
In recent years, younger children have often been offered / received a vaccine against hepatitis B via the county council’s vaccination program.