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Forum Name: Viral Infections

Question: Hepatitis A & B Vaccination Without Booster Shot


 ju65zx - Fri Mar 14, 2008 1:26 pm

My husband and I are travelling to Egypt in April, 2008 and see that it is recommended to be vaccinated for Hepatitis A and possibly B and get an adult polio booster.

We were both vaccinated for Hepatitis A and B after Hurricane Katrina in 09/2005. We never went back for the booster shots. There is very little information on the internet addressing the effectiveness of the vaccine without the booster shot. I found one article that said there is evidence of immunity without the booster shots for Hepatitis A. I can't really find anythng about continuing immunity for Hep B. Also, we were both vaccinated for polio as children and received the OPV. We are in our fifties now.

After Katrina we could have gotten these boosters free of charge, but now we would have to go to the Ochsner Travel Center/Infectious Disease Department to get the shots and they are very costly. We are travelling to Cairo, going on a Nile Cruise and then to Sharm el Sheikh on the Red Sea. These are mostly tourist areas. Do you think we will be protected against Hepatitis A and B without getting the boosters? Do you advise getting the polio booster?

Thanks for your help.
 Debbie Miller, RN - Tue Mar 18, 2008 6:36 pm

User avatar Hello,
The information on Hepatitis A indicates that immunity with the first dose is probably good for somewhere between five and eight years so you could probably pass on the second dose for this trip. However, it is recommended for long-term immunity.

Hepatitis B is one that is recommended for travelers to Egypt but your risk is not great unless you plan to stay there for at least six months or work in a situation that might put you at risk such as health care. You do not need a booster at all if you completed the initial series. But, if you only had one, long-term protection will require the second and third doses. Hepatitis A is transmitted sexually and through blood or other deep body fluids. Contaminated/shared needles used for drugs, or accidentally injected are a cause of the disease. So, consider your risk and you may opt out assuming there is no other requirement for you on this.

Polio boosters are usually only given once if you travel to a place that is currently at risk for polio. This is where the travel clinic comes in. They monitor diseases throughout the world and could advise you on this. The information changes so I can't say for your situation at present. You do not have to have another booster as an adult if you get one. So, if you travel again to a country at risk you would not need to repeat the booster.

You may inquire at your local health department if your insurance doesn't cover hepatitis or other vaccines. They may have reduced cost vaccines when not given as part of the travel clinic. You do not have to go to the travel clinic if you know what it is you want/need to have. Just go to the health department and ask to be immunized. Inquire about cost. This could be lower than the travel clinic or private physician can offer.

The travel clinic personnel are the most qualified to evaluate your particular situation. I hope this helps a bit.

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