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Hepatitis B

  • Download the Student Health History and Immunization Packet (PDF)

    College Immunizations - Introduction

    The Ohio Revised Code (ORC) Section 1713.55 states that beginning with the academic year that commences on or after July 1, 2005, an institution of higher education shall not permit a student to reside in on-campus housing unless the student ( or parent if the student is younger than 18 years of age) discloses whether the student has been vaccinated against meningococcal disease and hepatitis B by submitting a meningitis and hepatitis B vaccination status statement.

    ORC Section 3701.133 states that the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) shall make available on its web site information about meningitis and hepatitis B, the risks associated with the diseases and the availability and effectiveness of the vaccines. ODH shall also make available on its web site, in a format suitable for downloading, a meningitis and hepatitis B vaccination status statement form that complies with the guidelines outlined in the ORC Section 3701.133, (B).

    Please note that this law does not require vaccination of the student, nor does it require the institution to provide or pay for these vaccines. It requires only disclosure of vaccine status of the student.

    Hepatitis B and College Students

    Hepatitis B is a serious disease 

    Hepatitis B is a virus that affects the liver. It is one of the several hepatitis diseases ( for example hepatitis A and hepatitis C) that are caused by different viruses but are similar in that they attack the liver. The hepatitis B virus (HBV) can cause short-term (acute) illness that can lead to loss of appetite, stomach pain, tiredness, diarrhea, vomiting, jaundice (yellow skin or eyes) and pain in the muscles or joints. These symptoms can last for several weeks. It can also cause long-term (chronic) illness from which people never recover. A person might not look or feel sick, but he or she carries the hepatitis B virus in their blood for the rest of their life and can infect other people with HBV. Chronic hepatitis B may cause liver damage (cirrhosis), liver cancer, and even death. About 1.25 million people in the United States have chronic HBV infection. Each year 80,000 more people mostly young adults get infected with HBV and 4,000 to 5,000 people die from chronic hepatitis B.

    How do you catch Hepatitis B? 

    HBV virus is spread through contact with blood or other body fluids of an infected person. You can catch the virus by having unprotected sex, by sharing drug needles or by sharing personal items such as razors or toothbrushes with someone who is infected. Babies of chronic HBV mothers can become infected during birth. Children can be infected through exposure to blood and other body fluids from infected children or adults.

    Who is at risk?

    Anyone who participates in any of the behaviors listed above is at risk of acquiring hepatitis B.

    What can be done?

    There are hepatitis B vaccines available that can prevent infection with HBV. Many physicians offer the vaccine to patients seen in their offices. These are the first anti-cancer vaccines because they can prevent a form of liver cancer that can develop in a person who gets chronic hepatitis B infection.

    What about the vaccine?

     A vaccine, like any other medicine, is capable of causing serious problems, such as allergic reactions. Most people who get hepatitis B vaccine do not have any problems with it. People who have ever had a life-threatening allergic reaction to baker’s yeast (the kind used to make bread) or to a previous dose of hepatitis B vaccines should not get the vaccine. People who are moderately to severely ill at the time the shot is scheduled should usually wait until they recover before getting the vaccine. Hepatitis B vaccine is very safe and the risk of it causing serious harm is extremely small. Hepatitis is a serious disease and getting the vaccine is safer than getting the disease. College students and their parents should discuss the timing, risks and benefits of vaccination with their healthcare providers. For more information about the hepatitis vaccine access the Vaccine Information Sheet at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention web site . If college students decide to be vaccinated against hepatitis B, they (or their parents if they are less than 18 years of age) should contact their healthcare provider or the university/college student health center where they will be attending to inquire about receiving the vaccine.

    Adapted from CDC publications.