The hepatitis B disease is spread worldwide, with a comparatively low prevalence in the Federal Republic of Germany. The hepatitis B virus is mainly transmitted through unprotected sexual intercourse, through contact with infected blood (eg intravenous drug use, tattoos under unhygienic conditions, in the medical field) and during birth from the infected mother to the child.
Many cases are accompanied with no characteristic jaundice. The age at the time of infection affects the course of the disease. In adults, 5-10% of cases change from an acute to a chronic form, so the virus remains permanently in the body, can spread and leads to destruction and shrinkage of the liver.
In the case of an infection of the newborn during birth or infancy, almost 80% of cases follow this course. In order to prevent transmission from mother to child, all pregnant women after the 32nd week of pregnancy are required to undergo appropriate blood tests.
The currently possible treatment of hepatitis B infection is not successful without side effects and not to the desired extent.
Vaccination: genetically engineered HBs- antigen, therefore no risk of infection, injection into the muscle.
Who should be vaccinated?
- all infants, children and adolescents,
- HB-endangered medical staff, including trainees or students, as well as cleaners in the health service
- dialysis patients and patients with frequent transmission of blood or blood products or patients in whom appropriate blood transfusions are expected,
- patients with chronic liver disease,
- persons of specific risk groups (eg homosexually active men, drug addicts, prostitutes, prisoners who have been in prison for a longer period),
- staff and patients in mental health institutions,
- Persons, who have contact with infectious hepatitis B sufferers in the family or community (eg kindergartens, orphanages, nursing homes, school classes, syndicates) as well as travelers with longer stays in regions where hepatitis B is more prevalent and where close contact with the local population can be expected.
- Other persons at risk of blood contact with potentially infected persons, depending on the risk assessment (e.g. corporate and volunteer first responders, emergency services, police, social workers and prison staff in contact with drug addicts).
Time of vaccination: After completion of the second month of age, 3 to 4 vaccinations are due. Newborns of infected mothers should be vaccinated directly after birth. At the age of 9 – 18 years all persons need a basic immunization. Those, who are not yet vaccinated need to complete gaps in their vaccination protection.
Most frequent vaccine reactions: tolerability good, occasional redness and swelling at the injection site, rarely fever and even less joint pain.
Note: If there is no vaccine protection and there is a risk of infection, please contact your family doctor or paediatrician immediately and discuss the next steps. Under certain circumstances, an infection can be prevented by administering immunoglobulins (antibodies) and / or simultaneous vaccination.