Do you know that scientists have identified six hepatitis viruses? Three cases, known as A, B and C, trigger around 90% of instances of acute hepatitis in Canada.
People infected with hepatitis can encounter symptoms varying from moderate illness to significant liver injury. Most of these recover entirely from infection, while others become carriers of the disease and unknowingly transmit it to others. Viral hepatitis is the primary source of acute hepatitis in Canada.
The hepatitis A infection is more prevalent in children and young people, while the hepatitis B infection is more widespread in individuals between 30 and 60.
Fortunately, there is a vaccine called Twinrix. What is Twinrix, and how long does Twinrix last? Check out this comprehensive guide to the vaccine made to prevent hepatitis A and B.
First, let's take an in depth look at both Hepititis A and B to fully understand the importance of the vaccinations.
What Is Hepatitis A and B?
In Canada, between 300 and 150 persons are confirmed to be contaminated with hepatitis A and B per year. However, because many sick patients have no signs, we may expect that the real infection rate is more significant than that. Let's learn more about these types of hepatitis.
1. Hepatitis A
Hepatitis A is transmitted by direct contact with an infected individual. Also, through eating or drinking food or drink contaminated with the hepatitis A virus. Since the virus exists in contaminated stools, consuming food cooked by an infected individual who does not follow acceptable hygiene practices is one way to contract the virus.
While not as expected, you also can contract hepatitis A through direct interaction, such as sexual contact or needle sharing. Many people can be carriers of the virus without showing any symptoms. However, they can still pass on the virus.
Symptoms of Hepatitis A
Not all hepatitis A-infected persons will experience symptoms. Young children in school sometimes have no symptoms because, typically speaking, children show more mild signs than adults. Between 15 and 50 days after contact, symptoms can develop.
When you first contract the hepatitis A virus, it is named an acute infection. Typical signs of critical hepatitis A include the following:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Abdominal discomfort
- Dark urine
- Low fever
- Loss of appetite
The older you are at the point of exposure, the higher the degree of sickness. Some people stay sick for one or two weeks, and in other people, the sickness will linger for several months. Hepatitis A is seldom fatal. However, people who already suffer from chronic liver disorder, including hepatitis B and C, are at an elevated risk of significant complications from the hepatitis A infection.
Avoiding Getting Hepatitis A
There is a secure and robust vaccination that will keep you from catching hepatitis A called Twinrix. Because up to 40% of confirmed cases of hepatitis A occur in travellers, it is recommended to protect yourself with a hepatitis A vaccination six weeks before you depart.
Take these extra safety measures as well:
- Wash your hands regularly and thoroughly, particularly after using the bathroom, cooking food and eating
- Avoid foods that are raw or not cooked
- If you are travelling to high hepatitis A countries:
- Drink filtered or boiling water and use it to brush your teeth
- Do not use ice unless made with bottled water
- Avoid eating salads.
- Avoid street food vendors
2. Hepatitis B
Hepatitis B is a condition of the liver triggered by the hepatitis B virus (HBV). HBV is much more contagious than HIV and may be controlled with the use of a vaccine. Those that have not obtained their vaccines may become vulnerable to infection.
An individual with acute or chronic hepatitis B can transmit the infection to others through their blood and other body fluids or sexual activity. The hepatitis B virus is present mostly in the infected person's blood, semen, and vaginal secretions.
About 95% of adults can heal from acute hepatitis B infection within six months and thus have lifetime immunity. The remaining 5% are unable to destroy the infection and will become severely sick. You can get treatment for chronic hepatitis B infection.
Fewer than 1% of Canada's population is afflicted with either acute or chronic HBV.
Symptoms of Hepatitis B
What happens to you after you develop hepatitis B depends mostly on the age at which you first get sick and how well the immune system deals with the infection.
If you are afflicted as an adult, you will have a short illness of mild to medium symptoms, such as:
- dark urine
- abdominal discomfort
- loss of appetite
Children subjected to this infection before the age of seven years show no signs or effects at all. Unfortunately, they are more likely to be life-long carriers of hepatitis B since their immune system is unable to suppress and eliminate the infection from their bodies.
In such instances, persistent infections are sometimes not recognized until far later in life when a person becomes severely sick with liver disease.
Chronic hepatitis B infection moves through various stages, indicating how well the body deals with the virus. While most chronic hepatitis B patients have a passive disease and may stay stable, around one in four will have chronic infections that may contribute to cirrhosis, organ failure, and even liver cancer.
People who are healthier with the dormant disease can still be at risk of reactivating the virus significantly when medicines compromise their immune systems, such as chemotherapy or other infectious diseases.
Avoiding Infection of Hepatitis B
There is a reliable and successful vaccination called Twinrix that will keep you from contracting hepatitis B. The vaccine is typically administered in three doses over six months.
Other measures to protect yourself and your family members include:
- Adopting safe sexual activities
- Avoid sharing razors, nail clippers, toothbrushes etc
- If you are pregnant, make sure that you get tested for hepatitis B
- Avoid tattooing, piercing, pedicures and manicures unless safety precautions are in place
3. Treatment and Manifestation of Hepatitis A and B
Hepatitis A has an incubation time of two to six weeks. Hepatitis B only manifests after two to six months. Often patients with hepatitis A and B infection have moderate to no signs of the infection.
In persons who show symptoms, they will get flu-like symptoms, which will occur about three to ten days before symptoms of the liver develop.
Thereafter, the urine will darken, and jaundice may grow. With jaundice, the skin and the whites of a person's eyes have a yellow hue. The inflamed liver cannot conduct its normal biochemical processes, so a material called bilirubin increases in the body.
Typically, you tend to feel healthy when you have jaundice, even though you keep looking worse.
In hepatitis A the jaundice stage only lasts for about one week. After that, you'll continue to heal and usually feel like your usual self within a month. You are immune for life after recovering from hepatitis A.
In hepatitis B, the jaundice stage is about two weeks.
Twinrix: The Vaccine for Hepatitis A and B
Both hepatitis A and B are identified by obtaining a blood sample, which you submit to a laboratory test. This test decides whether you have antibodies in the blood unique to those viruses. If the result is positive, you have been subjected to either hepatitis A or B.
To check whether anyone has hepatitis B, the test will see whether the individual has certain hepatitis B antigen levels.
What Is Twinrix?
Twinrix is the only combination hepatitis A and B vaccine available.
It is administered as a sequence of injections by a healthcare provider. Twinrix is used to treat and prevent hepatitis A and hepatitis B infections in men, teenagers, children, and babies.
Who Should Receive Twinrix?
According to Canadian medical advice, the vaccine is required for all those seeking to minimize their hepatitis A and B infection risk. Twinrix is used for vaccinating adults, teenagers, youngsters and babies above one year of age.
In specific, vaccination against hepatitis A is suggested for:
- Travellers to countries or areas with a risk for hepatitis A
- The Canadian armed forces, emergency organization, or any other organization likely to be sent at short notice to high-risk areas for hepatitis A
- Zoo workers, veterinarians, and researchers
- People diagnosed with liver disease
Hepatitis B vaccination is prescribed for those who:
- Travellers to countries or areas with a risk for hepatitis B (areas also shown in the link above)
- Nurses, including medical students
- Prisoner workers and prisoners
- People in contact with someone with hepatitis B
- People who use medication through injections
- Hemodialysis patients
- Immunodeficient people
- People infected with HIV
- Immigrants and students coming to Canada
How Does One Administer Twinrix?
Twinrix is given by injecting the liquid into the muscles. How many Twinrix shots do I need? It is provided as a sequence of three dosages. With the second dose given at least one month after the first. The final and third dose given at least six months after the first dosage.
A 4-dose rapid schedule is also accessible for individuals 19 years of age and over. It is safe to receive the hepatitis A and B vaccination in conjunction with other vaccines.
How Does Twinrix Work?
The TWINRIX vaccine operates by allowing your body to grow its own defenses (antibodies) against both hepatitis A and B.
Vaccination is the only method to avoid contamination of Hepatitis A and B.
What Does Twinrix Contain?
What does Hepatitis A & B vaccine contain? It contains amino acids, neomycin sulphate, formaldehyde, aluminum salts, polysorbate 20, sodium chloride, and yeast.
In the pre-filled syringes, the junction between the syringe and the needle contains latex.
How Effective Is Twinrix?
About 100 percent of individuals produce Hepatitis A and B antibodies within one month of obtaining the third immunization. 97% of individuals have made antibodies in one month following the second dose of the vaccine.
How Long Does Twinrix Last?
For Hepatitis A, the protection will be for at least 20 years and or hepatitis B for at least 15 years. New findings show that recipients can enjoy life-long security once they have received the sequence of the three injections.
Are There Any Side Effects to Twinrix?
Like any drug, the Twinrix vaccine can trigger side effects, but the chance of severe side effects is exceptionally low.
Very Common side effects felt in more than 10% of people receiving the vaccine are:
- Pain and redness at the injection site
Common side effects felt between 1% and 10% of people receiving the vaccine are:
- Swelling at the injection site
Uncommon between 0.1% and 1% of people receiving the vaccine are:
- Upper respiratory tract infection
- Muscle aches
Rare between 0.01 and 0.1% of people receiving the vaccine are:
- Lymph disorders
- Joint pain
- Nerve disorders
Very rare in less than 0.01% of people receiving the vaccine are hives.
Still, you should call your doctor or hospital if you have critical or unusual reactions after receiving the vaccine.
Will My Immunization Be Recorded?
Your immunization records are registered in a computerized network known as the Immunization Records and Yellow Cards. While this one is specific to Ontario, each province has their own.
They can use information obtained in these databases to:
- Maintain immunization data
- Inform you whether or when you or your family members need an immunization
- Track how well vaccinations perform to prevent vaccine-preventable infections
You can also share your immunization history with health care providers for the provision of social health services to aid with assessment and treatment and monitor the spread of infectious illnesses.
Get the Shot and Stay Informed
The hepatitis A & B virus is silent but violent. The virus is 50 to 100 times more contagious than HIV and can survive outside the body for at least seven days, making it much more infectious then most infectious diseases.
Nobody is immune to the first infection, and once contracted, it can lead to chronic illness and, in extreme cases, even death.
We hope this article answered the question, "How long does Twinrix last?" Also, that it has given you further insight into hepatitis A and B.
You may have landed here because you are travelling or maybe even moving to another country. Along with your vaccinations, your travel insurance is the smartest accessory you can pack. As a leading financial comparison platform, we at Insurdinary will provide you with the best possible quote on the market for all of your insurance needs. Reach out to us today! We look forward to working with you.