Hepatitis is a disease that comes in various strands that affect the liver. It’s a viral infection that comes in three major strands: A, B, C and D. No matter what type of hepatitis you contract, you run the risk of the disease causing major liver failure, which can result in the need for a transplant.
Like with other diseases, there is a vaccine available to keep you from contracting hepatitis A or hepatitis B. As of right now, there’s no vaccine available for hepatitis C or D. Hepatitis vaccines are regularly given to children, but the vaccines are available to people of all ages. The following are four things to consider before getting the hepatitis shot.
1. It lasts a long time.
The problem with some vaccines is that they only last for a few years and you’ll have to get the vaccine again in order to keep it effective. The hepatitis vaccine doesn’t work this way. Once you receive the hepatitis vaccine, your body will create the necessary antibodies to protect you from the disease for at least 20 years. So if you get the vaccine as a teenager and come into contact with the disease as an adult, you should be protected.
2. Your body may not need it.
For most people who contract hepatitis, their bodies will usually fight off the disease naturally on its own without the use of a vaccine. Hepatitis is a viral disease, and your body will work hard to eliminate the disease from your body. There are a few cases where the hepatitis is considered chronic, and in these cases, your body will not fight off the disease on its own and a vaccine could be beneficial.
3. It’s a lengthy process.
Both the hepatitis A and hepatitis B vaccines require multiple shots months apart. The hepatitis A shot typically requires two shots to be given, generally about six months apart. The hepatitis B vaccine typically requires three shots to be given within one year. If you’re not regularly at the doctor, you may not remember to go to get the remaining shots.
Plus, if you were to come into contact with the disease before all of your shots were given, having that first vaccine will not help you from catching the disease entirely. Most parents opt to give the vaccine to their child because they know that their child will regularly see the doctor for checkups, which can keep their immunizations on track. Adults, on the other hand, don’t see their doctors as regularly, making it more difficult to remember to finish the process.
4. You’re at risk.
Because of the vaccine being given to children, the amount of people who contract the disease has decreased dramatically. In fact, the risk of catching hepatitis is so low that only people who are considered to be at risk should get the vaccines.
If you are traveling to a country where hepatitis is more widespread, work with people infected with the hepatitis disease (healthcare), have liver disease, use recreational drugs and/or have unprotected sex with multiple partners, you’re at risk and should get the shot.