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Hepatitis Vaccinations

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) designated May 19, 2013, as National Hepatitis Testing Day. Each year, this day serves as a reminder for people at risk to be tested. Anyone at risk of infection should contact AFC Urgent Care Watertown to get a titer test to check for immunity to hepatitis A, B, and C. If you’re not immune, schedule an appointment to receive the hepatitis A and B vaccinations.

Hepatitis A, B and C are serious diseases. Fortunately, you can protect yourself against infection and the subsequent complications of chronic liver disease. The team at AFC Urgent Care Watertown is here to provide you with hepatitis testing, education, and vaccinations year-round, but especially during Hepatitis Awareness Month!

Hepatitis is most often caused by viral infections. It can also be a result of heavy alcohol use, medications, and some medical conditions. Infection with viral hepatitis can turn into a lifelong disease, and it increases the risk of cirrhosis, liver cancer, and liver failure. Hence do not take hepatitis lightly. May is Hepatitis Awareness Month, and this is an opportune time to evaluate whether you need your Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B vaccine or a titer test for these diseases.

The word “hepatitis” means inflammation of the liver. For travelers, hepatitis that results from viral infections are the most relevant forms of the disease. There are multiple types of viral hepatitis, including hepatitis A, B, C, D, E and G. Hepatitis C is the most common blood-borne infection in the United States, with nearly 4 million chronic infections. There is no vaccine to protect against hepatitis C. However, both hepatitis A and B can be prevented with a hepatitis vaccine.

Hepatitis A is typically spread through contaminated food and water, such as food prepared by an ill restaurant worker. Hepatitis B is spread through blood, such as via sexual intercourse or from blood transfusions. This chronic disease is common in many parts of the world, including much of Asia and Africa and hence important to consider when traveling abroad. Hepatitis B can become a chronic, lifelong infection, yet many people with chronic hepatitis are not aware of their infection. About 15,000 Americans die each year of liver cancer caused by viral hepatitis.

Getting vaccinated against hepatitis A can prevent serious illness while vaccination for hepatitis B reduces the lifetime risk of liver damage and liver cancer. So have you been vaccinated against Hepatitis? If not or unsure, please come on in and review your vaccination needs with a doctor at AFC Urgent Care Watertown, a full service walk-in Urgent Care center located at 376 Arsenal Street.

 

By Dr. Rosemary Pomponio