Hepatitis Vaccines and Screening
Viral Hepatitis - Know More
The word "hepatitis" means inflammation of the liver. Hepatitis is most often caused by a virus. In the U.S., the most common types are Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, and Hepatitis C. Heavy alcohol use, toxins, some medications and certain medical conditions can also cause hepatitis. Viral hepatitis is the leading cause of liver cancer and the most common reason for liver transplantation.
An estimated 4.4 million Americans are living with chronic hepatitis; most do not know they are infected. In Florida, it is estimated that about 76,000 people are currently infected with Hepatitis B, and about 300,000 people currently live with Hepatitis C.
Viral Hepatitis - Are You at Risk?
Because Hepatitis C is on the rise, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all baby boomers (born 1945-1965) get tested at least once for Hepatitis C.People who test positive for Hepatitis C can take steps to prevent the spread of the virus to others.
Hepatitis C - Get Tested
Testing for viral Hepatitis is available at DOH-Sarasota. To be eligible, you must fill out a risk assessment, be 18 years or older and not have been screened for Hepatitis through Florida’s special ‘09’ Hepatitis Prevention Program in the past year.
Viral Hepatitis risk assessments are available at:
- North Port Health Center - Adult Immunizations
- William L. Little Health and Human Services Center (Sarasota)
- Adult Immunizations
- Walk-in STD program ("SHIP")
Hepatitis A & B - Get Vaccinated
Hepatitis A Vaccines
Hepatitis A vaccination is done through a two-dose series with the second dose given 6-12 months after the first dose. Hepatitis A vaccine is not currently available through the ‘09’ program.
Hepatitis B Vaccines
Hepatitis B vaccination is done through a three-dose series given at the following intervals: first dose, then a second dose one month later and a third dose five months after the second dose. It is fine to get second and third doses later than the minimum, but not sooner. Partial series, even those begun several years prior, can be completed at any time without needing to restart the series.
Reduced-Cost Hepatitis B Vaccines for those at high risk
Hepatitis B vaccines are available for just the cost of the administration fee ($20) through the special ‘09’ Hepatitis Prevention Program. To qualify, you must:
- Not have completed a full series of three (3) Hepatitis B vaccines – however, you can get it if you started or completed the Hepatitis A series
- Be at increased risk for Hepatitis B. Risk Factors include being born between 1945 and 1965, as well as unsafe personal practices and having diabetes or other conditions that weaken the immune system. You do not have to disclose the reasons for the risk to qualify.
- People with Hepatitis C and those in close contact with individuals diagnosed with Hepatitis B or Hepatitis C are also at high risk for Hepatitis B and should be immunized.
Combination Hepatitis A & B Vaccines
A combination vaccine for Hepatitis A and B is available. This vaccine is given on the same schedule as Hepatitis B, and is not available through the ‘09’ program.
Those who believe they are at risk for hepatitis should talk with their health care provider. Although DOH-Sarasota provides testing and has a vaccination program, treatment is not available at this agency.
Treatment for Hepatitis B and C is costly without insurance or an alternate source of payment. Hepatitis C treatment is also still evolving. Those who are diagnosed with Hepatitis C may benefit from Hepatitis B vaccination and local support groups for those living with the disease.
Resources for more information:
- Living with Hepatitis C - CDC
- National Hepatitis C Helpline: 877-HELP-4-HEP (877-435-7443)
The Helpline provides peer-to-peer Hepatitis C support, education, counseling and referrals for testing and treatment.
- Support Groups for those living with Hepatitis C
Tampa Bay Hepatitis and Liver Support Group in Sarasota
3rd Tuesday each month, 7-9pm at Sarasota Memorial Hospital
Call: (941) 921-2374
- Florida Department of Health provides links to many resources
Appointments are available by calling the Immunization Program Office.