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Hepatitis B

The Centers for Disease Control recommends vaccination against Hepatitis B Virus for most infants, all 11-12 year olds who have not already been vaccinated and for people who may be at risk for infection. California has added a 7th grade immunization requirement. Beginning July 1, 1999, seventh grade students will need to have three Hepatitis B shots.

Hepatitis B is a virus that causes an infection which attacks the liver and can result in liver damage, liver cancer, and even death. After smoking, it is the world's leading cause of cancer. In the United States approximately 240,000 people are infected and nearly 5,000 people die each year from Hepatitis B related illnesses.

Infection from Hepatitis B may cause loss of appetite, fever, feeling of being tired, pain in muscle, joints, or stomach, diarrhea or vomiting, yellow skin or eyes, and even death. Some people who are infected may have no symptoms and will not know they have the disease; but they can still pass it on to other people. It is important to be aware of the dangers of Hepatitis B as there is no cure for Hepatitis B infection, but the vaccine can prevent infection from occurring at all.

Hepatitis B Virus is spread through the blood and body fluids of people infected with this virus. It can be spread through contact with needles contaminated by HBV as during tattooing, body piercing, or drug injection. Hepatitis B Virus can also enter your body through sexual contact, by sharing a toothbrush or razor with an infected person, or during birth when an infected mother passes the virus to her baby. HBV can be prevented. People can modify their behavior and take special precautions. Vaccination is the best way to prevent infection. Most people should get three doses of Hepatitis B vaccine. If you miss a dose, get the next dose as soon as possible. There is no need to start over. Hepatitis B vaccine is one of the safest vaccines. The current vaccine contains no blood or blood products and is made from yeast cells that have been changed by genetic engineering. As with all medications, there is a small risk of serious problems, but getting the disease is much more likely to cause serious illness than the vaccine. Mild problems include soreness at the injection site and mild to moderate fever. Severe allergic reaction is very rare.

As with most health problems, prevention is the key. Childhood vaccinations are the most effective means of protecting your child's health and preventing disease.

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Other informative articles:

Head Lice
Tick Bite

Tulare County Office of Education
School Health Program
7000 Doe Avenue, Building 700, Visalia, CA 93291

Nan Arnold, Program Manager
(559) 651-0130 • fax: (559) 651-1995

Jim Vidak, County Superintendent of Schools
Tulare County Office of Education
All mail to: P.O. Box 5091, Visalia, CA 93278-5091
Physical address: 6200 S. Mooney Blvd., Visalia, CA 93277
phone: (559) 733-6300 • fax: (559) 627-5219

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