Twinrix is a combination vaccine used to prevent hepatitis A and hepatitis B infection. The vaccine works by causing the body to produce its own protection (antibodies) against these diseases.
Hepatitis A and hepatitis B are infectious diseases, which cause the liver to be become inflamed (swollen). These diseases are caused by viruses - hepatitis A and hepatitis B viruses.
Symptoms of hepatitis A usually begin 3 to 6 weeks after coming into contact with the virus. These consist of nausea (feeling sick), fever, aches and pains. After a few days the skin and/or the whites of the eyes may become yellowish (jaundice).
The severity and type of symptoms can vary. Hepatitis A is often milder in young children. Most people recover completely but the illness is usually severe enough to keep adults off work for about a month.
The hepatitis A virus can be passed from person to person in food and drink, or by swimming in water contaminated by sewage. Hepatitis A is very common in many parts of the world and the risk of infection is greatest in those areas where hygiene and sanitation are poor. Areas include Asia, India, Africa, Central and South America, the Pacific Islands, the Middle East, and the Mediterranean Basin. Vaccination is recommended for travellers to these areas, including people in the armed forces.
Some groups of people however are at a higher risk of exposure to the disease. Vaccination is recommended for these people:
The hepatitis B virus is found in body fluids such as blood, semen vaginal secretions, or saliva of infected people. You can catch the virus if it can enter your bloodstream. Ways this can happen are through:
Some people infected with hepatitis B may not look or feel sick yet others will get symptoms. Symptoms may not appear for 6 weeks to 6 months after infection. Sometimes people will only have mild flu-like symptoms, but other people can become very ill. They may be extremely tired, and have dark urine, pale faeces, yellowish skin and/or eyes (jaundice), and other symptoms possibly requiring hospitalisation. There is a risk of serious liver disease, such as cirrhosis (liver scarring) and liver cancer for all chronic hepatitis B carriers.
Some groups of people are at a higher risk of exposure to hepatitis B. Vaccination is recommended for these people:
There is no specific treatment for hepatitis A or hepatitis B. Vaccination is the best way to protect against infection.
Twinrix will not protect against hepatitis caused by other agents or viruses (such as hepatitis C or hepatitis E). If a person is already infected with hepatitis A or hepatitis B virus at the time of vaccination, Twinrix may not prevent the disease in these people.
Twinrix is not recommended for prevention of hepatitis after exposure for example in the case of needlestick injuries.
Twinrix® (inactivated hepatitis A and recombinant DNA hepatitis B vaccine) is available as an injection of 1.0mL, containing 720 units of inactivated hepatitis A virus and 20mcg of hepatitis B protein; Twinrix Junior® is available as an 0.5mL dose, containing 360 ELISA units of inactivated hepatitis A virus, and 10mcg of hepatitis B protein. Twinrix is a private-purchase prescription medicine for immunisation against hepatitis A and hepatitis B virus infection. You will need to pay for this medicine. Use strictly as directed. Twinrix should not be administered if you are sensitive to components of the vaccine or other hepatitis A or hepatitis B vaccines. Tell your doctor if you have a fever, are on dialysis, or are pregnant. Common side effects: headache, fatigue, fever, malaise, nausea or vomiting, irritability, drowsiness, and pain, redness or swelling at injection site. Rare side effects, such as rash, anaphylaxis, and allergic reactions, have also been reported. If you have side effects, see your doctor, pharmacist or health professional. Additional Consumer Medicine Information for Twinrix is available at www.medsafe.govt.nz. Normal doctor's office visit fees apply. Ask your doctor or travel medicine specialist if Twinrix is right for you.
Twinrix is a trade mark of the GlaxoSmithKline group of companies. Marketed by GlaxoSmithKline NZ Limited, Auckland. TAPS DA89KH/08MY/066