Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B
Hepatitis A is a virus that causes acute inflammation of the liver that results in a severe illness that lasts for days to months. Nausea, vomiting, dehydration, jaudice, and severe fatigue are typical symptoms. The recovery period is about 6-8 weeks. The virus is transmitted sexually or through contaminated food or water. It is common in third world countries, but there are many cases right here in DC. The vaccine is given in 2 doses over a six month period.
Hepatitis B is a virus that is transmitted sexually or through shared IV needles. Jaundice, severe fatigue, nausea and vomiting are typical. The recovery time can be up to 6 months. 10% of those infected never get rid of the virus and are left with chronic Hepatitis B. Half of these patients will go on to develop progressive liver disease which may result in liver failure. There are a variety of treatments available for chronic hepatitis with variable success. The Vaccine is given in 3 doses over a 6 month period.
There is a combination vaccine for both Hepatitis A and B that is given in 3 doses over a six month period.
I highly recommend both vaccines for anyone that is sexually active. I believe everyone should be immunized against Hepatitis A with rare exceptions.
Pneumovax (Pneumonia Vaccine)
The Pneumovax is recommended for patients with HIV as well as those with asthma and other chronic lung conditions. Those over age 65 should also get the Pneumovax. This vaccine is effective for 10 years.
Flu Shot (Influenza Vaccine)
Flu shots are given annually from October through January. This vaccine protects against Influenza virus. This virus does not cause typical colds or flus. Rather, it causes a much more severe illness with very high fever, severe cough, and significant body aches. The vaccine is recommended for all HIV patients, those with chronic underlying illness such as asthma, lung disease, diabetes and also for those over age 65. We also give the vaccine to anyone that wants one.
Tetanus or Tetanus combined with Diptheria are effective for 10 years. Everyone should be vaccincated every 10 years. Anyone who has a skin penetrating injury of any type (not just rusty nails) who has not had a vaccine in the previous five years should be revaccinated.
Zostavax (Herpes Zoster/Shingles Vaccine)
This vaccine is recommended for those over age 50 to prevent Herpes Zoster, also known as shingles. This illness is a recurrence of prior chicken pox infection. The virus that causes chicken pox will lie dormant in the root of the spinal nerves. Many years later, the virus may reactivate in the distribution of a particular spinal nerve causing a painful rash which is sometimes debilitating. Because of the potential severity to older patients, the vaccine is recommended only in this age group.