The hepatitis B vaccine helps protect against hepatitis B Hepatitis B, Acute Acute hepatitis B is inflammation of the liver that is caused by the hepatitis B virus and that lasts from a few weeks up to 6 months. Hepatitis B is spread through contact with blood or other... read more and its complications (chronic hepatitis Hepatitis B, Chronic Chronic hepatitis B is inflammation of the liver that is caused by the hepatitis B virus and that has lasted more than 6 months. Most people with chronic hepatitis B have no symptoms, but some... read more , cirrhosis Cirrhosis of the Liver Cirrhosis is the widespread distortion of the liver's internal structure that occurs when a large amount of normal liver tissue is permanently replaced with nonfunctioning scar tissue. The scar... read more , and liver cancer Hepatocellular Carcinoma Hepatocellular carcinoma is a cancer that begins in the liver cells and is the most common of the primary liver cancers. Having hepatitis B or hepatitis C or fatty liver disease, or drinking... read more ).
Generally, hepatitis B is more serious than hepatitis A Hepatitis A Acute hepatitis A is inflammation of the liver that is caused by the hepatitis A virus and that lasts less than 6 months. Hepatitis A is usually spread when people ingest something that has... read more and is occasionally fatal. Symptoms can be mild or severe. They include decreased appetite, nausea, and fatigue. In 5 to 10% of people, hepatitis B becomes chronic and can lead to cirrhosis and liver cancer.
For more information, see the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) Hepatitis B vaccine information statement.
(See also Overview of Immunization Overview of Immunization Immunization enables the body to better defend itself against diseases caused by certain bacteria or viruses. Immunity (the ability of the body to defend itself against diseases caused by certain... read more .)
Administration of Hepatitis B Vaccine
The hepatitis B vaccine is typically given in a series of two or three injections into a muscle. However, if people who have been vaccinated are exposed to the virus, a doctor measures their antibody levels against hepatitis B. If the antibody levels are low, they may need another injection of hepatitis B vaccine.
As a part of routine childhood vaccination Childhood Vaccination Schedule Most doctors follow the vaccination schedule recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC—see the schedule for infants and children and the schedule for older children... read more , all children are typically given three doses: at birth, at age 1 to 2 months, and at 6 to 18 months. Infants who did not receive a dose at birth should begin the series as soon as possible.
The hepatitis B vaccine also is recommended for older children and adolescents who were not previously vaccinated. The vaccine can be given to any unvaccinated adult who wants to be protected from hepatitis B.
The vaccine is also recommended for all unvaccinated adults who are at increased risk of getting hepatitis B, such as the following:
People who work in professions where they may be exposed to blood or other potentially infectious body fluids, such as health care, custodial, or public safety workers
People who travel to areas where the infection is common
People with a chronic liver disorder (such as hepatitis C, cirrhosis, fatty liver disease, alcohol-related liver disease, and autoimmune hepatitis) or high levels of certain liver enzymes in their blood
People who inject illegal drugs
People who have several sex partners
People who need to be evaluated or treated for a sexually transmitted disease Overview of Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) Sexually transmitted (venereal) diseases are infections that are typically, but not exclusively, passed from person to person through sexual contact. Sexually transmitted diseases may be caused... read more
Men who have sex with men
Sex partners and household contacts of people known to be carriers of hepatitis B
People who are under age 60 and have diabetes Diabetes Mellitus (DM) Diabetes mellitus is a disorder in which the body does not produce enough or respond normally to insulin, causing blood sugar (glucose) levels to be abnormally high. Urination and thirst are... read more and sometimes people who are age 60 and older who have diabetes
People who are employed by or are given care in places where there are people at high risk of hepatitis B (such as places where people with sexually transmitted diseases are treated and places where drug-abuse treatment and prevention services, services for injection drug users, and services for men who have sex with men are provided; hemodialysis centers, institutions for developmentally disabled people, correctional facilities, and HIV testing and treatment facilities)
Pregnant women if they are at risk of getting the infection or of getting very sick or dying of infection during pregnancy
If people have a temporary illness, doctors usually wait to give the vaccine until the illness resolves (see also CDC: Who Should NOT Get Vaccinated With These Vaccines?).
Side Effects of Hepatitis B Vaccine
Occasionally, the injection site becomes sore, and a mild fever develops.
People with a history of severe allergic reaction to baker’s yeast, which is used in the production of the hepatitis B vaccine, should not be given the vaccine.
The following are some English-language resources that may be useful. Please note that THE MANUAL is not responsible for the content of these resources.