These days, many communicable diseases are already preventable. This is made possible by worldwide vaccination campaigns that aim to decrease and limit the spread of these diseases.
Vaccines help the body develop immunity by mimicking a certain infection. This exposure to infection is just enough to trigger the body’s immune system to produce defensive white blood cells (T and B-lymphocytes) and antibodies.
Once the mimicked infection is over, your body’s immune system already knows how to fight the same kind of disease in the future. This is how vaccines prevent a vaccinated individual from contracting the disease.
Do you or your beloved ones need a specific vaccine? Contact us and inquire about all types of vaccines we provide.
Types of Vaccines
There are five main types of vaccines, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
- Live, attenuated vaccines are those that contain a live, weakened version of the bacteria or viruses. Getting these vaccines is almost similar to exposure to natural sources of infection. Although live, attenuated vaccines help develop strong immunity against certain diseases, people with poor immune systems cannot receive the vaccine. Varicella and measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccines are included in this category.
- Toxoid vaccines prevent diseases caused by toxin-producing bacteria. To prevent the vaccine from causing illness, it contains a weakened version of the toxins, known as toxoids. Once the body is already exposed to the toxoid, it already knows how to fight the toxin. Tetanus toxoids and the diphtheria component of DTaP vaccines fall under this category.
- Subunit vaccines are those that contain only the essential subunits, or parts, of the viruses or bacteria. Instead of the whole microorganism, only the needed antigens (foreign substances that the immune system recognizes, thereby stimulating the body to produce antibodies) are introduced into the body. Thus, it has lesser side effects. Examples of subunit vaccines are the Hepatitis B vaccine and the pertussis component of the DTaP vaccine.
- Conjugated vaccines are created to fight diseases caused by bacteria whose antigens are coated with polysaccharides (sugar-like substances). This coat disguises the antigen, making it harder for children with immature immune systems to recognize and react against it. Conjugate vaccines help combine or conjugate the polysaccharides to antigens that the body’s immune system recognizes and responds to. Vaccines against the Hib (Haemophilus influenzae type b) disease are conjugated ones.
- Inactivated vaccines contain a dead or inactivated version of the bacteria or viruses. Some types of this vaccine require multiple doses to build up the body’s immunity. Examples of inactivated vaccines are Polio and Hepatitis A vaccines.
Approved in 2005, the vaccine for Hepatitis A is an inactivated type of vaccine, which means that it contains an inactivated Hepatitis A virus. The vaccine is injected into the muscle of the upper arm. It stimulates the body to produce proteins, known as antibodies, that fight off Hepatitis A. Therefore, once the body is exposed to Hepatitis A, its immune system already knows how to combat the disease.
Just recently, there are three new reported cases of Hepatitis A in Palm Beach County. It is best if you arm yourself with knowledge on how this disease is contracted, what it does to the body, and how it can be prevented.
What is Hepatitis A?
Hepatitis A is a liver infection that is extremely contagious. It is caused by the hepatitis A virus that causes inflammation to the liver and affects its ability to function. It is obtained when an uninfected or unvaccinated person consumes food or drinks water that contains fecal matter of an infected person.
The disease is associated with contaminated water or food, poor sanitation, and poor hygiene. The illness can range from mild, which can last up to a few weeks, to severe cases, which can last up to several months.
The liver is mainly responsible for processing nutrients, filtering blood and fighting infections. These functions are affected when the liver is inflamed or damaged.
The most common types of hepatitis virus in the United States are Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, and Hepatitis C. Some other causes of hepatitis are heavy alcohol consumption, intake of toxins, medicine intake and certain health conditions.
What are the risk factors of Hepatitis A?
Anyone can be infected by a hepatitis A virus, but people are at greater risk if they engage in the following, or if they are one of the following kinds of person:
- Travelling or living in places where Hepatitis A virus is common
- Having sexual contact with a person who has hepatitis A
- A man having sexual contact with other men
- Using any type of recreational drugs, whether injected or not
- A person who has a clotting-factor disorder such as hemophilia
- Family members or caregivers who are living with a person infected with hepatitis A
How common is a Hepatitis A virus?
Hepatitis A still transpires in the United States, in spite of the fact that it was persistent over the last several decades. Presently, there has been more than a 90% decrease in hepatitis A cases. There has only been an estimate of 3, 000 new cases of hepatitis A each year.
Experts believe that the decrease of hepatitis A cases is due to the vaccination of children and people who are at risk. However, most of the new cases are travelers. They are mostly infected while traveling in some parts of the world where hepatitis A is prevalent.
Hepatitis A can be prevented by obtaining a safe and effective vaccine. Hepatitis A vaccine Palm Beach County is now available, especially for children and for people who are traveling or working in countries where hepatitis A is common.
How is Hepatitis A transmitted?
The virus is usually transmitted when a person consumes food that contains fecal matter from an infected person. The virus can also be obtained from having direct contact with contaminated objects or water.
The virus can be transmitted through the following:
- A person who is infected and does not properly wash his/her hands after using the bathroom then touches an object or food.
- A caregiver who does not properly wash his or her hands after changing diapers or cleaning up the feces of a person who is infected with Hepatitis A virus.
- Someone who has sexual contact with an infected person.
Hepatitis A can also be transmitted through contaminated water or food. The contamination of food can happen from growing food to food preparation, which mostly happens in countries where hepatitis A is prevalent.
What are the signs and symptoms of Hepatitis A?
14-28 days is the usual incubation period of hepatitis A and the signs and symptoms include:
- Joint pain
- Muscle pain
- Abdominal pain
- Loss of appetite
- Dark urine
- Gray-colored bowel movements
- Jaundice (a yellowish color of the skin and whites of the eye)
The signs and symptoms of hepatitis A mostly occur in adults rather than in children. Only 10% of children under 6 years old develop the symptom jaundice. On the other hand, older children and adults often experience more severe symptoms from the infection. Jaundice occurs in more than 70% of hepatitis A cases.
The hepatitis A doctor in Palm Beach County would diagnose the patient by discussing the symptoms and taking a blood sample. This way the doctor can properly assess the patient’s condition.
For the treatment, our hepatitis A doctor in Palm Beach County would usually recommend adequate rest, fluids, balanced nutrition, and medical monitoring. In some cases, hospitalization is needed. It usually takes a few months for a patient to fully recover.
The most effective way to avoid hepatitis A is to have good sanitation, follow food safety rules and engage in immunization.
Hepatitis A can be prevented with:
- An adequate supply of safe drinking water
- Vaccinating your children and making sure you have the proper vaccinations for travel
- Practice proper hygiene such as regular hand washing
The Hepatitis A vaccine is proven effective and safe. A person can have 2 shots that are 6 months apart. Both shots are needed for long term protection. It is advisable to ask your health insurance if they cover travel-related vaccines. You can get vaccinated at our clinics!
Hepatitis A doctor in Palm Beach County - Further Information
If you would like more information about vaccination, do not hesitate to contact us or visit our walk in clinic at one of our convenient locations in West Palm Beach, North Palm Beach or in Palm Springs.
The material contained on this site is for informational purposes only and DOES NOT CONSTITUTE THE PROVIDING OF MEDICAL ADVICE, and is not intended to be a substitute for independent professional medical judgment, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your health.