Add Hepatitis B Vaccination to Your Back to School List

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What is Hepatitis B?

Hepatitis B is a disease of the liver caused by the hepatitis B virus. Hepatitis B can affect anyone, and each year in the United States more than 200,000 people of all ages become infected. This means that, in the United States, 1 individual out of 20 will become infected in their lifetime. Some persons who become infected never get rid of the virus and are at risk of developing cirrhosis (scarring) of the liver and liver cancer. Each year, about 5,000 persons will die as a result of this chronic (long-lasting) disease.

A vaccine is available to prevent hepatitis B, and it is strongly endorsed by medical and public health experts as safe and effective. All children aged 0-18 years should receive the hepatitis B vaccine series. Many states require hepatitis B vaccination before school entry. Visit the Immunization Action Coalition website which features a list of hepatitis B vaccination requirements by state.

Vaccines for Children (VFC), a federal vaccination program, provides routinely recommended vaccines free of charge to children up through 18 years of age. One of the most effective ways to protect the health and well being of your loved ones is to be sure they receive the vaccines they need. Find out if your child is eligible to use VFC funds. Children might also need hepatitis A vaccine.

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Hepatitis A vaccine is recommended for children aged 2 years and older in communities where there were consistently increased rates of hepatitis A during a baseline period (1987-1997). Check with your health care professional to see if you reside in any of these areas.

Remember, vaccination is a very important part of your child's health care. Be sure to add hepatitis B vaccination and possibly hepatitis A vaccination to your "Back to School" list.

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The source of this article is http://www.hhs.gov

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