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Hepatitis B: what you should know

  • Published
  • By Staff Reports
  • 82nd Aerospace Medicine Squadron Public Health Flight
As of April 1, 2015, all active duty members are required to have the Hepatitis B vaccination series.

An estimated 1.4 million people in the United States and approximately 240 million people worldwide are infected with the Hepatitis B virus. It is essential for the Sheppard community to be aware of ways to prevent this serious illness. 

Hepatitis B is a serious liver infection that can be transmitted through blood and semen. Some of the common ways this can occur is through sexual contact, sharing needles or syringes, and through birth from an infected mother to her newborn child.

There are two types of Hepatitis B, acute and chronic. An acute infection is short-term, it occurs within six months after exposure to the Hepatitis B virus. Although it does not always develop into a chronic or long-term infection, the possibility remains. The long-term illness can cause serious health problems, and eventually lead to premature death.

Symptoms may vary between the two infections. The symptoms are as follows:

Acute infections are not always symptomatic, especially among young children. However, if symptoms arise, they can persist for a few weeks to several months and include fever, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, or joint pain.

Chronic symptoms are similar to acute infections and will not always show while the person is infected. It can take up to 30 years to develop while damaging the liver. This can result in serious liver problems such as cirrhosis, liver failure, and liver cancer.

The best way to prevent infection is through vaccination. It is a three-shot series administered over a period of six months for adults and is absolutely mandatory for all uniformed personnel. To provide long-term protection, the entire series is needed. Other prevention methods include routine screening of all pregnant women, use of condoms during sexual intercourse and preventing the sharing of needles.

To check the status of your or your dependents shot records visit the Aeromedical Services Information Management System, ASIMS, website at:

For more information, please contact the 82nd Aerospace Medicine Squadron public health flight at 676-1874 or visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at: