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hep b

Free Hepatitis B vaccinations available Whistler's SAFE is hosting a free Hepatitis B vaccination clinic Tuesday for people under 21. According to Sue Clarkson, public health nurse with the Coast Garibaldi Health Unit, people under 21 are the prime targets because of a gap in the high school vaccination program that missed some students. The SAFE, Whistler's first sexual awareness centre, is on the second floor of the Whistler Health Care Centre. Vaccinations will take place from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m., says Clarkson. Hepatitis B is increasing faster in B.C. than any other province in Canada. It is a disease that affects the liver and sometimes causes permanent liver damage, scarring and even death. Clarkson says the project, funded by the Ministry of Health, is targeted at young adults who deem themselves "at risk." "The best way to describe at risk is anyone who has had two or more sexual partners within six months or I.V. drug users," says Clarkson. She says blood, semen and vaginal secretions are the main carriers of the disease. About half the people who catch Hepatitis B never feel sick and can spread the disease without knowing it. Although most of the people recover from the disease and their body clears itself of the virus, up to 10 per cent of those affected become carriers. There are about 300 million Hepatitis B carriers around the world. The regular cost for the Hepatitis B vaccination is $120.

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