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How do children get exposed to Hepatitis B?

Paediatrician Help By Dr Ombeva Malande
Photo: Courtesy

How do children get exposed to Hepatitis B?

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Hello Dr Ombeva,

I have a question related to vaccines. When do children get the vaccine for tetanus and Hepatitis B? How many doses do they get, and does having a tetanus infection protect one from getting tetanus again? How do children get exposed to Hepatitis B? My other question is can someone get chickenpox from shingles? Forgive me for the many questions.

Concerned Mom

Dear Concerned Mom,

There is a vaccine, called the pentavalent vaccine. It is an injection that combines vaccination against five common childhood diseases. The diseases include hepatitis B, pneumonia caused by Haemophilus Influenza type B bacteria, tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis. This vaccine is given as an injection, at age of 6 weeks, 10 weeks and 14 weeks.

About whether having tetanus vaccine prevents one from ever getting tetanus again, the answer is NO. The amount of tetanus toxin able to cause disease is very small and not expected to induce immunity. Cases of tetanus relapse or recurrence have been reported because tetanus spores that haven’t released toxin stayed in the body and released toxin later, producing symptoms of the disease.

Regarding how children can get exposed to Hepatitis B, the hepatitis B virus can be transferred from one person to another when an opening in the skin in one person comes in contact with blood, saliva, sexual fluids or even contact with weeping school sores of someone who has hepatitis B.

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Mothers who are hepatitis B positive can pass the infection onto their baby during the birth process, household members who are hepatitis B positive can pass the virus onto others, including children, living with them and children can pass the virus onto each other when they’re playing, especially if they have an accident.

The hepatitis B virus can also live outside the body in dried blood for at least seven days. If there is hepatitis B infected dried blood on playground equipment it is possible for another child to hurt themselves on the same equipment days later and become infected.

Finally, about shingles, a person with shingles is unlikely to get chickenpox again but they can pass the chickenpox virus onto someone else who is not immune to chickenpox if that person comes in contact with weeping shingles blisters.

— Dr Ombeva Malande is a Paediatrics and Child Health expert

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