University encourages hepatitis B vaccination

The United States Centers for Disease Control have estimated 200,000 newly infected hepatitis B cases.

Researchers say it is about 100 times easier to transmit hepatitis B than HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

According to the CDC, people infected with hepatitis B are hospitalized and 20,000 remain chronically infected.

The growing problem of students not being as adamant about precautions as they should has led officials at the University’s health clinic to encourage students to get hepatitis B vaccinations.

Students usually decline the vaccination because of the charge, which is $39.50.

They later sign waivers indicating they will promise to take the vaccinations at a later date.

“Although there have been no outbreaks on campus, students still do not take the disease seriously,” said Monique Potter, a University health educator and registered nurse.

Potter said there are three series of shots that must be taken to complete the hepatitis B vaccination.

And after a total of six months, the patient has been officially vaccinated.

Potter said some students come to school without having taken the series of shots.

As a result, they have to sign the waiver saying they will get them.

However, they are not obligated to get the vaccination at the University.

Although many students said they will consult their own medical practitioners, they usually don’t.

Students have discovered that FAMU does not require a hepatitis B vaccination to attend classes, just measles, mumps and rubella (MMR), so they usually try to save the $40.

Although the University is doing what it can to vaccinate students, the state of Florida has taken the initiative to educate its constituents.

According to a DOH press release dated Oct. 10, 2003, October is Liver Awareness Month.

The Florida Department of Health will offer free hepatitis vaccinations and provide education on the disease at several county health facilities.

The hepatitis B vaccination has been available nationwide since 1982, and according to, hepatitis B is a serious disease caused by a virus that attacks the liver.

The virus can cause lifelong infection, liver cancer, liver failure and/or death.

Hepatitis symptoms that infected people seem to ignore are abdominal pain and loss of appetite.

The others are jaundice, which is a yellowish discoloration that affects the procession of bile, fatigue, vomiting and joint pain.

Talea Woodard, a senior health management student, said she has been vaccinated since ninth grade.

“It [vaccination] needs to be required here at FAMU because there are a lot of diseases floating around FAMU’s campus. A lot of FAMU students do not know what their health insurance covers, so they leave it up to their parents to make the choice of getting the shot,” said the 22-year-old from German Town, Md.

Many people contract hepatitis B by engaging in unprotected sex, sharing needles and personal care items like toothbrushes and razors, when blood is spread.

According to the CDC, people at risk for hepatitis B include those with multiple sex partners or diagnosis of a sexually transmitted disease, men who have sex with men, infants born to infected mothers, infants of immigrants from areas with high rates of HBV infection, and health care and public safety workers.

“Hepatitis B is an undiscriminating disease that affects our families, our children, and millions of people both in Florida and beyond, and we applaud anyone who is working to improve this widespread health epidemic,” said Alan Brownstein, the president of the American Liver Foundation.

Contact Anthony S. Ray Jr. at