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- What is the Hepatitis B Vaccination?
- Is Hepatitis B Vaccine Safe for Babies?
- Benefits of Hepatitis B Vaccine to Your Child
- Recommended Dosage and Schedule
- How Long Do the Effects of the Hepatitis B Vaccine Last?
- How to Take Care of Your Child After the Hepatitis B Vaccination?
- Side Effects of the Hepatitis B Vaccine
- Which Infants Should Avoid the Hepatitis B Vaccine?
- Precautions to Be Taken While Giving the Hepatitis B Vaccine to Preemies
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Hepatitis B is a liver disease caused by the Hepatitis B virus or HBV. The virus can be transmitted from person to person in many ways, including blood transfusions, saliva, and other body fluids. It can be hard to pinpoint if your little one is infected as most people with Hepatitis B do not display any signs or symptoms, while other people experience high fever, chills, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite and jaundiced skin. Hepatitis B can only be diagnosed through a blood test. The disease is quite dangerous as around 20% of all infected children can develop dangerous conditions like liver cirrhosis or cancer over time. Hepatitis B infects 350 million people around the world, most of whom acquired it as children. While it is usually contracted through unsafe sexual intercourse, sharing drug needles in adults, from the mother to child, and pregnant women with Hepatitis B passing it to their babies during childbirth, most children are infected when they are born or in their first few years.
What is the Hepatitis B Vaccination?
Like all vaccinations, Hepatitis B vaccines can prevent infection by immunising the body against attack. The vaccine consists of degraded viral particles that cause the immune system to activate its defences against the Hepatitis B virus. The vaccination is provided by health organisations around the country as part of the routine vaccinations your child goes through. Please ensure you give your child the first dose immediately after birth.
Is Hepatitis B Vaccine Safe for Babies?
Hepatitis B vaccines are safe for all babies. However, some children might experience allergic reactions to the vaccine in very rare situations. These reactions are accompanied by fever, inflammation at the injection site, soreness, fatigue or pain, which will disappear soon after.
Because of this, it is crucial that you remain at the clinic for around an hour after your child gets the vaccine. On very rare occasions, anaphylaxis may occur, which is an allergic reaction that includes shortness of breath, oesophageal swelling, enlarged lips and mouth, rashes and so on. If any serious reactions appear after you leave the clinic, contact your health care provider immediately.
Benefits of Hepatitis B Vaccine to Your Child
There are several benefits associated with vaccinating your child against Hepatitis B. Some of them are:
- Protection against acquiring Hepatitis B, which can lead to serious complications.
- Prevents other people from getting Hepatitis B, as children without symptoms can inadvertently transmit the infection.
- Reduces the likelihood of developing liver conditions later in life.
- Your child will not have to miss school or have you miss work in order to take care of your child.
Recommended Dosage and Schedule
The Hepatitis B vaccine is given in doses, depending on the age of the child.
1. Recommended Number of Doses
The Hepatitis B vaccine is given in a set of three doses, along with vaccinations for other illnesses such as whooping cough, polio, diphtheria, influenza and tetanus.
2. Recommended Ages
The IAP Committee on Immunisation has strongly recommended that the first dose of the Hepatitis B vaccine should be given as soon as possible after birth and especially within 24 hours. The second dose should be given along with DPT at 6 weeks and the third dose at 14 weeks. For babies who are not available at birth, vaccination should not be denied. In this situation, the second schedule of 6, 10 and 14 weeks is recommended.
How Long Do the Effects of the Hepatitis B Vaccine Last?
The effective time period of different vaccinations ranges from a few months to an entire lifetime. Research has shown that the immune system remembers the virus for at least two decades, for those vaccinated as newborns. After this time, one can get the vaccination once again as an adult.
How to Take Care of Your Child After the Hepatitis B Vaccination?
Getting vaccinated is a painful process, so make sure you cuddle and comfort your little one during and after the procedure. Also, be aware of any developing symptoms which might indicate an allergic reaction. You may use a cool cloth to soothe the pain from the injection as well.
Side Effects of the Hepatitis B Vaccine
There are no long-term side effects of Hepatitis B or for that matter, any other vaccine. As already explained above, your child might experience a serious anaphylactic shock in extremely rare cases, the symptoms of which can include severe blistering, peeling, and red or purple skin rashes, shortness of breath, etc. Slight fever, fussiness, diarrhoea, etc. are mild side effects which should subside soon. Your baby might experience some discomfort due to the invasiveness of the method, but aside from this you need not have any concerns.
Which Infants Should Avoid the Hepatitis B Vaccine?
Vaccination for Hepatitis B comes with a few warnings. If your child is sick, like with the flu, please let them recover fully before the vaccination procedure. Also, if they have displayed symptoms of allergy to previous vaccinations, or are allergic to baker’s yeast, please inform your doctor before getting the vaccination. The latter is because the Hepatitis B vaccine is prepared using baker’s yeast, and some residual yeast proteins might still be present in the vaccine solution.
Precautions to Be Taken While Giving the Hepatitis B Vaccine to Preemies
If you have a premature baby, there is no need to get them the Hepatitis B vaccine before they turn at least one month old. Consult with your child’s paediatrician about the ideal time for vaccination.
Vaccinating your baby is one of the most important things you can do to protect him against a wide variety of preventable illnesses. Certain vaccines have been linked to autism in children, but pay no heed to them as they have no scientific basis whatsoever and, in fact, there are a number of studies that disprove this link. Vaccines are completely safe and a crucial requirement for your child to lead a long healthy life.
Also Read: Child Immunization & Vaccination Schedule