Hepatitis A & B

Hepatitis A & B

Hepatitis is a serious disease which can affect the liver, and can be caused by 5 different types of viruses, which belong to the same family. In children, vaccination to prevent the onset of this disease is given between the ages of 12 months and 23 months. Let’s look at two of the most important vaccinations, Hepatitis A vaccination and Hepatitis B vaccination, in a little more detail:

Hepatitis A:

Hepatitis A is spread through contact with the stool of a person infected with the hepatitis A virus. This usually occurs by eating food or drinking water that has become contaminated as a result of handling by an infected person. Hepatitis causes inflammation of the liver, vomiting, and jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes). Hepatitis can lead to liver cancer, cirrhosis or death.

How Does The Hepatitis A Vaccine Work?

The Hepatitis A paediatric vaccine is used to help prevent this disease in children. The vaccine works by exposing your child to a small amount of the virus, which causes the body to develop immunity to the disease. It should be noted, though, that this vaccine will not treat an active infection that has already developed in the body.

As mentioned earlier, vaccination with hepatitis A paediatric vaccine is recommended for all children between the ages of 12 months and 23 months, and in children and adults who travel to certain areas of the world where hepatitis A is a common disease. Like any vaccine, the hepatitis A paediatric vaccine may not provide protection from disease in every person.

Hepatitis A paediatric vaccine will not protect your child against infection with hepatitis B, C, and E, or other viruses that affect the liver. It may also not protect a child from hepatitis A if the child is already infected with the virus, even if the child does not yet show symptoms.

How Is the Vaccine Administered?

The Hepatitis A Paediatric Vaccine is given in a series of 2 shots. The first shot is usually given when the child is between 12 and 23 months old. The booster shot is then given 6 months later. Be sure your child receives all recommended doses of the vaccine. If your child does not receive the full series of vaccines, he or she may not be fully protected against the disease. Your child can still receive a vaccine if he or she has a cold or fever. In the case of a more severe illness or any type of infection, wait until the child gets better before receiving this vaccine. Your child should not receive a booster vaccine if he or she had a life-threatening allergic reaction after the first shot.

Hepatitis B:

Like Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B virus also affects the liver. Children infected by this virus can also become lifelong carriers of the virus and may develop long-term problems such as cirrhosis (liver disease) or cancer of the liver.

How Is The Vaccine Administered?

Hepatitis B vaccine (HepB) usually is given as a series of three injections:

  • Shortly after birth
  • At 1–2 months of age
  • At 6–18 months of age

How Does The Hepatitis B Vaccine Work?

The Hepatitis B injection usually creates long-term immunity. Infants who receive the Hepatitis B series should be protected from hepatitis B infection not only throughout their childhood but also into their adult years.

Eliminating the risk of infection also decreases risk for cirrhosis of the liver, chronic liver disease, and liver cancer. Young adults and adolescents also should receive the vaccine if they did not as infants.

Caring for Your Child After Immunization

After administration of these vaccines, it is possible that your child may develop a mild fever and soreness or redness in the area where the shot was given. Depending on your child's age, pain and fever may be treated with acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Very young infants should not be given either medication, but for older babies or kids, check with the doctor about the appropriate medication and dose.

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