GOVERNMENT WORKERS GIVEN PROTECTION AGAINST HEPATITIS B

Workers in the various ministries and departments in Government Headquarters had only to go to the second floor of the building to get a Hepatitis B vaccine, thanks to an outreach programme undertaken by the Community Health Services in the Ministry of Health.

Registered Nurse Doris Bradshaw revealed that this took place the morning of August 29 in the Parliamentary Lounge where workers cued up to get their shots.

“We are presently doing an outreach for the Hepatitis B vaccine,” Ms. Bradshaw revealed.  We have already engaged in different work areas, frontline workers. Many persons have come in also.  There are days when we schedule the different persons to come in.  We basically reserve that morning for them to come in and have their vaccine.”

Deputy Coordinator of Community Nursing Services, Rhonda Lowry Robinson, said that the current Hepatitis B vaccine outreach had begun in July, marking World Hepatitis Day, which was commemorated internationally on July 28.  She explained that since 2010, the World Health Organisation had acknowledged the day and encouraged countries to organize activities to promote awareness and prevention of the illness.  The Federation has since undertaken an outreach annually to commemorate the day.

“This year’s theme was “Elimination” and so we wanted to ensure that we vaccinated certain groups that we have not vaccinated for some time,” Ms. Robinson said, revealing that the vaccine is given in three doses, and it is important to get all three.  “We always reach out to frontline workers such as law enforcement, nurses and doctors, parks and beaches workers and so on because their jobs put them at risk to exposure to other persons’ bodily fluids.”

Ms. Bradshaw outlined how Hepatitis B is spread.

“Hepatitis B is a viral infection that affects the liver and so it’s spread when blood, semen or other body fluid, infected with Hepatitis B virus enters the body of a person who is not infected,” Ms. Bradshaw said.  “It is spread by persons who have multiple partners, persons who have a sexually transmitted disease, and persons who have sex with an infected person.”

It can also be transmitted from mother to child.  Women who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant in the next seven months were advised not to get the vaccine.  Those who took the first dose of the vaccine were advised not to become pregnant during the ensuing seven-month period.

Both health professionals emphasized that it was very important to get all three portions of the vaccine for it to be effective against Hepatitis B.  The second shot is given one month after the first and the third, six months later.  All residents interested in getting the vaccine are asked to contact the nearest health centre.

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