What is Hepatitis B?
Hepatitis B is the most common serious liver infection in the world. It is caused by the hepatitis B virus which attacks the liver. Many of the patients don’t notice any symptoms at all at the beginning of the disease, sometimes even for decades, until the chronic liver illness starts to manifest as cirrhosis and liver cancer. The earlier you catch the disease, the greater the odds it will be a chronic disease that would cause complications in the following years. The virus is excreted through the different body fluids, mainly through the blood, but it also exists in the spermatic fluid and the female genitalia. The main course of infection is via infected blood transfusions, a stab from an infected needle or an ill mother that infects her baby during birth. One could also get infected during sexual contact. Since many of the carriers of the disease are usually asymptomatic for many years and are not aware of their condition, it is difficult to avoid all exposure and therefore it is important to get vaccinated and be immune.
The vaccine for Hepatitis B contains the viruses’ envelope alone. In Nepal, It is administered is three doses, at the ages of 6, 10 and 14 weeks, according to the National childhood immunization program. According to the latest data from the WHO it is estimated that 87% of the population is vaccinated.
It is one of the safest vaccines with very rare side effects. Some local adverse effects are possible, such as redness, swelling and tenderness in the area of the vaccination. In addition to that, there could be some general adverse effects such as low fever, irritability, and fatigue. More significant adverse effects are extremely rare. There are no special limitations regarding the administration of the vaccine besides the general warning mentioned before.