Hepatitis B Vaccination for People with Diabetes (Continued)
Pharmaceutical companies getting rich?
This is not some pharmaceutical on a get rich quick scheme, as posed on many blog sites. A multitude of international organizations support hepatitis B vaccination.
The WHO recommends all children and people in high-risk groups should also be vaccinated, including:
- Persons with high-risk sexual behavior
- Partners and household contacts of hepatitis B infected persons
- Injecting drug users
- Persons who frequently require blood or blood products
- Recipients of solid organ transplantation
- Those at occupational risk of hepatitis B infection, including health care workers
- International travelers to countries with high rates of hepatitis B (China, other parts of Asia, the Amazon, southern parts of eastern and central Europe, Middle East and Indian subcontinent)
Steps to protecting against hepatitis B (and other blood viruses)
People with diabetes must take steps to avoid all potential blood exposures and infection threats from other blood-borne pathogens (like hepatitis C, which is on the rise and is the leading cause of liver transplants, and HIV). However, hepatitis B poses a particular risk because it is highly infectious (50 to 100 times more infectious than HIV) in residual blood and remains infectious on a surface for 7 days.
Think of the shear volume of people with diabetes who test their glucose who may not completely stop the finger from bleeding after lancing. Whether you are at your healthcare provider's office (wherein the table may not be cleaned in between patients), riding the subway, or pushing a cart in the grocery store, it is possible that residual blood from glucose testing might be present, albeit microscopically. If you don't stop the bleeding adequately from a finger poke and come in contact with other dried (infected blood), it could be a source of transmission. Is it likely? No. Is it possible? Yes.
Add into the equation the likelihood for hospitalization for a person with diabetes during their lifetime. Most healthcare workers follow protocol; it is worth getting protected against those that don't and to minimize your risk for exposure to the virus in your community. Though these are relatively rare events, it is important to know about the risk of shared devices so you can protect yourself.
Vaccination is an important, additional measure to prevent hepatitis B, especially for people with diabetes. Regardless of your decision, make sure you have stopped any bleeding from fingersticks, that the healthcare provider uses disposable single use lancets and gives you your own insulin pen to use throughout hospitalization, and that you don't share your meter or lancet device, or any injectable device with anyone, ever.
(Addendum: I do not get any funding from makers of vaccines. After reading the research, I changed my opinion from thinking this to be overkill to being important for people with diabetes and their families to consider when making an informed decision about hepatitis B vaccination.)
NOTE: The information is not intended to be a replacement or substitute for consultation with a qualified medical professional or for professional medical advice related to diabetes or another medical condition. Please contact your physician or medical professional with any questions and concerns about your medical condition.
- Hepatitis B Vaccination for Adults with Diabetes: Summary of Considerations. http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/recs/acip/downloads/mtg-slides-oct11/03-HepatitisMurphy.pdf
- Guh et al. Patient Notifications for Bloodborne Pathogen Testing Due to Unsafe Injection Practices in U.S. Healthcare Settings, 1999–2009. [Abstract 633]. Presented at: International conference on healthcare associated infections 2010. Atlanta. GA. 2011: media release
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