Hepatitis B is a potentially fatal viral liver infection spread from person to person by contact with blood and body fluids. Most commonly this is through unprotected sex or by sharing infected needles when using illegal drugs. Hepatitis B may cause an acute, short-term illness with loss of
appetite, fatigue, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle and joint aches, and jaundice (your skin and the whites of your eyes turn yellow).
Most people recover uneventfully and have no further problem with the virus. Others though may develop a chronic problem with liver damage, liver cancer, and death. The Centers for Disease Control reports that 1.25 million people in the United States have the chronic form of Hepatitis B with 80,000 people developing new cases each year. You are more likely to get Hepatitis B if you engage in high risk behaviors such as having multiple sexual partners or injecting illegal drugs.
About 4,000 people die each year from chronic Hepatitis B infection. You may prevent infection by avoiding risky behaviors and/or by vaccination.
We believe that vaccination is the best prevention for everyone and recommend that you have three injections of Hepatitis B vaccine over a six-month period. The vaccine is highly effective and has few side effects … typically some soreness at the injection site.
Most primary and secondary school systems require vaccination for school attendance. The State of Virginia mandates that you either have the vaccinations for college attendance or sign a waiver that you are aware of the risks and prefer not to be vaccinated.
You may receive the vaccine through your private health care provider, health department, or at the UMW Student Health Center.