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Should I get a hepatitis B shot?

Should I get a hepatitis B shot?
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23 Apr 2018

Which travellers need protection from the viral liver infection hepatitis B?

The hepatitis B shot is not recommended to all travellers, but your travel health nurse will advise you to get vaccinated against this viral disease if you have certain activities planned, or if you belong to certain high-risk groups.

What is hepatitis B?

Hep B is a vaccine-preventable viral disease. It is transmitted via blood or bodily fluids. Infection is often life-long and it can cause serious liver damage which makes sufferers vulnerable to liver cancer and liver failure. It can be sexually transmitted, which means that anyone infected with hepatitis B risks passing it on to those they care about. Many people with hep B do not even realize they have it, as the liver damage it causes can be symptomless. However, some people do experience:

  • abdominal pain
  • nausea and vomiting
  • painful joints
  • reduced appetite
  • tiredness
  • yellowing of the skin (jaundice)
How is hepatitis B contracted?

Hepatitis B is commonly sexually transmitted, but it can also be picked up from a needle-stick injury or during intravenous use of recreational drugs. It may also be transmitted during a medical or cosmetic procedure if the equipment has not been properly sanitized. It is transmitted from mother to baby during pregnancy, too.

Who is at risk from hepatitis B?

Children are at risk from hep B and the Government of Canada recommends that all school children be routinely vaccinated against it.

Healthcare and dental professionals and lab workers who may be exposed to body fluids are considered at risk from hep B.

The following activities will elevate your risk of infection with the hepatitis B virus:

  • injecting recreational drugs, particularly if you are sharing needles
  • sharing personal equipment such as razors and toothbrushes
  • sex without a condom, particularly with multiple partners
  • cosmetic procedures involving needles needles (for example, tattooing and piercing)
  • wellbeing procedures involving a needle (for example, acupuncture)
  • surgical procedures, injections and blood transfusions

You should be completely frank with your nurse adviser at Canadian Travel Clinics when they ask you about these activities. The information you share is confidential and it will help generate an effective hep B risk assessment, which will ensure you get the advice that will protect your health.

Details about the hepatitis B shot

There are a number of vaccine choices for hepatitis B. You can get this shot in combination with the hepatitis A vaccine, which can be cost-effective if you need protection from both of these. A course of hep B shots taken over six months and provides long-term protection, which is a good value option for frequent travellers.

Where can I get more information about hepatitis B?

One reliable source of information is The Government of Canada’s hepatitis B article. You can also learn more about getting the hep B shot from Canadian Travel Clinic’s vaccine information page.

Where can I get travel vaccinations in Calgary?

If you need an appointment at a travel clinic in Canada, turn to Canadian Travel Clinics. It is quick and easy to book online. Whenever you need travel jabs in Calgary, think Canadian Travel Clinics.