Why You Should Take The Hepatitis B Vaccine
Viral hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver caused by a viral infection. About five viruses cause the disease, namely hepatitis A, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, hepatitis D, and hepatitis E viruses respectively. Hepatitis B virus causes (HBV) short-term and lifelong infections and is the most common in Nigeria.
Although there are vaccines to prevent hepatitis B infection, less than 50% of adults above 19 in Nigeria have received the vaccination. Although it is a viral infection, there is no cure for hepatitis B. Vaccination and avoidance of risky behaviours offer the best ways of preventing the disease.
Here are six more reasons you should consider getting the Hepatitis B vaccine:
Hepatitis is a common disease
There are more people with hepatitis B infection than there are with HIV in Nigeria. According to the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA), the prevalence of HIV in Nigeria in 2019 is 1.9%. This is to say about 3.8 million live with HIV in Nigeria.
Compare that to the national prevalence of hepatitis B infection, estimated to be 9.5% in 2019 – about 20 million Nigerians have the infection. That means the number of people with hepatitis B is about five times the number of people living with HIV. However, hepatitis B infection doesn’t get as much media attention as HIV.
Although HIV and hepatitis B virus are transmitted via a similar route, they share different fatality rates. In 2020, about 680,000 people died from HIV worldwide while chronic hepatitis B virus infections accounted for about 860,000 deaths. Thankfully, unlike HIV, hepatitis B virus infection is preventable with a vaccine.
Many people don’t know their HBV status
The HBV status is a statement of whether one is infected with the hepatitis B virus or not. Many people don’t know their HBV status. A report shows that there could be about 15 million people in Nigeria who don’t know whether they are infected with the hepatitis B virus.
People who are infected with the hepatitis B virus but do not know their statuses constitute three sets of challenges. One, such people will not be included in the survey of people with hepatitis in a given location, which may cause researchers to have an inaccurate estimate of the prevalence rate. Secondly, carriers may transmit the virus without knowing, thereby increasing the number of people with hepatitis B virus in the community. Finally, infected persons could go on to develop life-threatening complications of the infection.
By getting vaccinated, you will help to maintain the current number of people with the infection and reduce its spread to others.
Hepatitis is a communicable disease
People infected with HBV have the virus in their blood, semen and other body fluids. They can transmit the virus through unprotected sexual intercourse and sharing of contaminated sharp objects.
As stated earlier, the risk of person-to-person transmission is high because many people don’t know that they have the virus. Babies can also get the virus from their mothers at birth, and the baby could go on to develop chronic hepatitis.
Living with someone who has hepatitis has its risks too, especially if you share personal items like toothbrushes and hair clippers. However, you cannot contract hepatitis B virus infection by sharing casual contact like a shake, kiss, or hug with someone infected.
Chronic hepatitis B infection is deadly
Hepatitis B infection does not always produce symptoms. In some patients, the body clears the virus without a need for treatment. In others, hepatitis B infection results in a severe illness that lasts only for a few weeks. That’s acute hepatitis. Sometimes, the infection can progress from acute to chronic. This is when it becomes worrying.
Chronic hepatitis B infection can result in serious diseases, including liver cirrhosis, liver cancer, liver failure, and even death. By taking the vaccine, you won’t have to worry about developing chronic hepatitis B infection, because you won’t have an infection at all to begin with.
The Hepatitis vaccine is safe
People often hesitate to take vaccines because they worry about its safety profile and potential side effects. The Hepatitis vaccine has been in use since 1981 and it is proven to be very safe for human use.
Although, as with any medicine, there is a possibility that you might develop side effects after taking the vaccine, such side effects are rare. The only thing that is remotely close to a side effect is the pain and soreness you will feel at the site of the injection. Other than that, you are good to go get a shot.
Anyone can take the hepatitis vaccine
The Hepatitis vaccine is available to users of all ages. A newborn can take the vaccine, likewise a youth or as an elderly person. You only need to present yourself or your child at a government-approved clinic to get a hepatitis vaccine shot.
Chronic hepatitis is a costly and deadly disease. It has no permanent cure; treatments only help to resolve symptoms and prevent them from getting worse. A vaccine protects you from getting the disease. The Hepatitis vaccine is available in most government-approved hospitals and it is affordable. Consider getting a shot today.