Most people have heard of hepatitis B, but many do not know what it is, how it’s transmitted, or how to treat it. The key thing to understand is that this virus can be prevented thanks to the hepatitis B vaccine. Thousands of people in the UK have the jab every year to protect them against hep B, especially those who are going abroad to places where the infection is more common.
If your business relies on international travel, or if your employees are at risk of exposure due to the nature of their work, Superdrug’s Occupational Health services can help you protect your workforce with our vaccination program. Also, if you want to offer protection against harmful diseases as part of your employee benefits package, corporate vaccines such as the hepatitis B shot are a great way to ensure peace of mind for you and your employees.
What is hepatitis B and how is it spread?
The hepatitis B virus causes an infection which attacks the liver. There are acute and chronic variations of the disease and if someone is suffering from chronic hepatitis B, then they may end up with serious liver problems such as cancer or liver failure.
If you have hepatitis B, you may not have any obvious symptoms. However, most people suffer from flu-like symptoms such as body aches and pains, tiredness, a fever, as well as a loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting, diarrhoea, stomach pains and jaundice (yellow colouration of the skin and eyes). Diagnosis is usually given by a GP who carries out blood tests.
Hepatitis B is mainly spread through blood and other bodily fluids including semen and vaginal fluids. It is spread in several different ways: from exposure to blood infected with the virus; from an infected mother to a new born baby; through injecting drugs and sharing needles/syringes and other drug paraphernalia; by having sex with an infected person without using a condom; by receiving medical or dental treatment in an unsanitary environment without sterilised equipment; or by getting a tattoo/body piercing with unsterilised needles.
How to treat hepatitis B
Those who think they have been infected or exposed to hepatitis B should contact their GP for testing, treatment, and monitoring to ensure that it does not develop into chronic hepatitis B. If the symptoms are manageable then most healthy adults will be able to clear the virus in a few months.
However, people with weakened immunity or those that are vulnerable are more at risk from suffering from chronic hepatitis B and having long-term health issues. Treating chronic hepatitis B involves ongoing medical support from a specialist; the patient will need anti-viral medication and monitoring of the liver to try and prevent damage. Life-long treatment may be required if the virus cannot be cleared.
How does hepatitis B affect the workforce?
Some people work in environments where they may be at risk of contracting diseases including hepatitis B, particularly those who work with vulnerable, at-risk people. Additionally, there are certain areas of the globe where hepatitis B is more prevalent and these cover huge expanses of continents, including countries in sub-Saharan Africa, Western Pacific, South-East Asia, and Eastern-Mediterranean region. Those who travel to these places are more at risk of becoming infected with the virus.
Hepatitis B is a concern for many, but it doesn’t have to be. To protect your staff, they should have the hepatitis B jab so they can work and/or travel without the added stress of catching a debilitating disease. There are three doses of the vaccination which need to be staggered a few weeks apart. There is also the option of an accelerated course of the hepatitis B vaccine for those who need it at short notice. Booster doses may be recommended for those in need of ongoing protection.
Hepatitis B can live for 7 days outside of the body before it infects somebody who has not been vaccinated, so vaccination is the safest way to protect oneself against this disease.
How can Superdrug help with vaccination for your workforce?
Our Occupational Health Services are tailored to the needs of our corporate clients. With our specially trained nurses and pharmacists, we provide the corporate hepatitis B vaccine safely and efficiently. Your team members can arrange an appointment for the hep B jab at a time that is convenient for them. We have over 80 health clinics across the UK where your staff can come and get vaccinated.
Get in touch with Corporate Healthcare by Superdrug today for more information on how we can help with our corporate vaccination program.