Requiring hepatitis-B shots for schoolchildren would prevent the spread of the liver ailment, a University of Washington professor said.
Dr. Ed Marcuse, who also practices at Children’s Hospital, said Monday at a state Health Department hearing in this Seattle suburb the vaccine is safe and effective.
A separate hearing was held in Spokane on the department’s proposal to require that children be vaccinated against hepatitis-B before entering school.
Hepatitis-B is a virus is spread through blood and bodily fluids and eventually can lead to liver failure or cancer.
Those most at risk include drug abusers, homosexuals, people with multiple sex partners, health-care workers and children in day care.
About half the people with the disease are not in high-risk groups, so a universal immunization approach is necessary, Marcuse said.
State law now requires that school children be immunized against nine diseases, including measles, mumps and polio.
Marcuse said most hospitals and doctors already give hepatitis shots to children in the first two years. Requiring immunization would protect more youngsters, he said.”It’s among the safest vaccines we have,” Marcuse said.