As we continue to acknowledge this year’s World Immunization Week, we at International Medical Treatment Ltd (IMT), found it important to educate you on two very important vaccinations. If carried out, these will help play an important role in achieving the global immunization goal to eradicate preventable-diseases around the world by 2030. The two vaccines discussed in this article are HPV and Hepatitis A and B vaccines.
HPV stands for Human Papilloma Virus which is a group of viruses that comprise of more than 100 types, of which at least 13 are cancer-causing. These viruses are mainly transmitted through sexual contact with an infected person. 70% of cervical cancer cases are caused by type 16 and 18 of the HPV virus.
Cervical cancer is the 2nd most common cancer in women worldwide causing over 200,000 deaths each year. Apart from cervical cancer, HPV is also linked to other cancers, such as cancer of the anus, vagina, vulva, penis, head and neck cancers and genital warts in both men and women.
Most HPV infections cause no symptoms, so most people do not know they are infected and therefore pass it on unknowingly. That is why getting vaccinated against the virus is very crucial.
There are two vaccines available for prevention against HPV type 16 and 18 which cause 70% of cervical cancer cases and type 6 and 11 which mostly cause genital warts. Both vaccines are safe and very effective in preventing HPV and they work best if administered prior to HPV exposure.
Girls between the ages of 9-13 are recommended to get the vaccinated against HPV before they become sexually active. However, females above 15 years up to the age of 26 can also get the vaccine in 3 doses; at 0, 2, 6 months-interval.
People whose immunity is compromised and/or are infected with HIV also get a 3-dose schedule. Boys from the age of 9 or 15-26 years are also eligible for vaccination against HPV.
The two main HPV vaccines available include:
- Gardasil: Prevents against HPV types 6 and 11.
- Gardasil 9: Prevents against types 6, 11, 16 and 18 as well as other high-risk HPV types 31, 33, 45, 52 and 58.
Getting vaccinated against HPV is very important and goes a long way in reducing cancer cases, especially cervical cancer and other anogenital cancers and conditions. It is advisable to get vaccinated before starting to be sexually active.
About 2 billion people worldwide are infected with hepatitis B. Hepatitis refers to a group of viruses; Hepatitis A, B, C, D and E, which cause acute and/or chronic liver infection or inflammation.
The global burden of hepatitis infections requires worldwide support. One of the ways to curb this global crisis is through prevention. There are vaccines available for Hepatitis A and B.
Hepatitis A is a liver disease caused by the Hepatitis A virus, which can be transmitted through contact with the stool of an infected person or water and food contaminated with the virus. The symptoms for this disease include:
These symptoms may start to occur about 2-6 weeks after exposure to the virus. Hepatitis A can lead to liver failure and even death. The vaccines available internationally for this virus are:
- Formaldehyde-inactive vaccines: These are safe and very effective. Initially they were given in a two-dose schedule, however, they can now be administered as a single dose especially in healthy individuals. They remain effective for 25 years or more.
- Live attenuated vaccines: They offer a 95% protection against hepatitis A in children for at least 3 years. These vaccines are given in one dose. The vaccine is safe and highly effective
You can also get the vaccines even if you had had it before. However, people with severe allergies or are unwell should not get the vaccines.
Hepatitis B is a viral infection that affects the Liver causing acute or chronic liver disease. It can be transmitted through coming into contact with blood or other bodily fluids or an infected person.
Over 200 million people are living with the virus worldwide and over 500,000 others die from the virus each year. The good news is that there is a vaccine available for the virus and therefore these numbers can be reduced. This virus in most cases, does not cause any symptoms during the acute infection but can bring about:
- Dark urine
- Nausea and fatigue
- Abdominal pain
The hepatitis B vaccine is recommended for all infants as soon as possible, after they are born, preferably 24 hours after birth. Adolescents below 18 years and who have not been vaccinated can also get the vaccination.
It can also be followed by 3 other doses over a 6 moths period to obtain lifelong protection. Vaccination for hepatitis B is effective in more than 95% of infants and can last at least 20 years or be lifelong. Scientists are still doing research on vaccines for the other types of hepatitis: C, D and E.
Getting vaccinated against these diseases is one of the best health decisions you will ever make for yourself or for your child. Share this information with your friends and family this world immunization week and help them protect themselves from HPV and Hepatitis A and B.
This will in turn lead to reduced transmissions and reduced the number of illnesses and deaths that occur as a result of these viruses.
For those who are already suffering from liver cancer or chronic liver failure, International Medical Treatment Ltd (IMT) can help you get treatment for these conditions at some of our partner hospitals around the world.