Ask the Doctor
December 17, 2013
Why vaccinate young children for hepatitis B?

Dear Doc,

I see that hepatitis B vaccination is now part of the schedule of vaccinations for children. I know that hepatitis B can cause cancer of the liver, but I also know that it is transferred by blood and blood products during intercourse, blood transfusion, sharing of intravenous needles and organ transplants. Most of those activities happen after age 10. So, why vaccinate young children?{{more}}


Dear Leroy,

Your analysis has good merit. It is true that hepatitis B can cause liver cancer to develop and therefore vaccination against hepatitis B is a direct method of fighting cancer.

The problem with the introduction of hepatitis B in the childhood vaccination schedule lies with poor explanation to the population. Many have reservations about vaccinations and to add a new one was certain to make a stir. The points you mentioned are very valid and should be answered by the experts.

Some valid questions that require answers are the following:

1. How many persons have been diagnosed with hepatitis B over the past five years?

2. What was the age of diagnosis?

3. What was the source and method of infection?

Every possible method of protecting the society from devastating illnesses must be entertained, but having scientific data for presentation must be paramount. If there was to be a problem in relation to the vaccinations, the population would have reasons to mistrust further ventures by the health authority.

I support hepatitis vaccinations, but like you, feel there are important questions to be answered.


SVG Cancer Society,

P.O. Box 709, Kingstown.

Email: [email protected]