Don't Let Your New-born Leave The Hospital Without This Vaccine

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When you give birth to a child, its health and safety is of prime importance to you. You want to ensure that your child is immunized against all the diseases and infections and one of the most important immunizations that should be covered in your schedule is the Hepatitis B vaccination.

What is hepatitis B and what are its symptoms?

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It is a fatal infection of the liver caused due to HBV virus and can result in chronic as well as acute forms of complications such as liver cancer or cirrhosis.

The disease spreads through contact with blood, mucus, saliva, vaginal, menstrual or seminal fluids of the infected person. It can also occur due to surgical and dental procedures if proper hygiene is not maintained. Same goes for needle procedures like tattooing or sharing razors. Due to this reason, it has become an occupational hazard for many workers in the healthcare sector and cosmetic industry.

The common symptoms include jaundice and paleness along with fatigue, vomiting sensation, and abdominal cramps. Those suffering from acute hepatitis can even die due to liver failure or cancer [1].

The facts

It is a dangerous disease that has affected about 360 million people worldwide. In fact, it is about 100 times deadlier as compared to HIV. It is estimated that out of 25 million (2.5 crore) babies born in India each year, almost one million (10 lakh) babies stand the chance of getting chronically infected due to HBV in their future years. It is shocking that more than 100,000 (one lakh) people in India suffer an early death due to Hepatitis B every year, according to the Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences (ILBS).

Prevention

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To counter the dangers of the HBV virus, WHO or the World Health Organisation recommends vaccination for all infants [2]. Moreover, the first dose should be given as early as possible, preferably within 24 hours of the delivery. Even in case of home birth, the parents must be made aware of the immunization. It is found to be highly effective in the prevention of perinatal transmission of the infection.

The Government of India also supports this move and is making the vaccine a part of routine vaccination that is given to the babies. Regardless of the birth dose given at the hospital, three more doses are given at the 6th, 10th and the 14th week, along with the DPT and OPV vaccines.

In fact, the WHO recommends that the Indian Government increase and double the scope of HBV vaccines at birth [3].

The report says that being a contagious disease, it should be nipped in the bud so as to prevent it from becoming a lifelong issue. Though India has reached a milestone by covering almost 86% of the third and last dose in the year 2015, there is still a lot to do.

There are some safety measures that the government could follow in order to minimise the transmission, and they include:

  1. Ensuring safe injection practices in the health and other private sectors.
  1. Raising public awareness regarding general hygiene and sexual transmission of the disease.
  1. Creating an action plan to cover 90% of complete HBV doses in the coming years.

Health is something that can’t be compromised. The government is doing its duty, and we need to be pro-active and take initiatives to avoid any lapse. After your delivery, don’t forget to check if all the essential vaccinations, including the HBV vaccine, have been administered to your baby. After all, prevention is better than cure.

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