Hepatitis B Vaccine

Hepatitis B Vaccines

Vaccines agianst Hepatitis B are given in a 3-dose series of shots. The first shot is usually given at birth. Serious side effects are rare, but the risks increase for infants who are sick, premature, or low birth weight.

Table of Contents for Hepatitis B Vaccines

What is the Hepatitis B vaccine?

The Hepatitis B vaccine is an immunization against a contagious virus that causes liver inflammation. The vaccine has been safely given to over 100 million infants, teenagers, and adults and the risk of severe side effects is very low.

How is the vaccine given?

Infants and toddlers receive 0.5-mL injections in the thigh muscle, or in the upper arm for children between 3 years and 18 years old. Adults over 19 years old receive 1.0-mL shots in the upper arm.

How many shots do I need?

Three. The Hepatitis B vaccine is given in a 3-dose series. The second vaccine is given 1 month after the first vaccine. The third vaccine is given 6 months after the first vaccine.

Do I need a booster shot for Hepatitis B?

No. Routine booster shots are not routinely recommended.

How effective is the Hepatitis B vaccine?

The vaccine is over 90% effective at preventing Hepatitis B.

What are Hepatitis B vaccine names?

There are two single-antigen vaccines and three combination vaccines against Hepatitis B. The names of the single vaccines are:

  • Engerix-B® (HepB) vaccine made by GlaxoSmithKline. It is a recombinant viral / IM vaccine that was approved in 1989.
  • Recombivax HB® (HepB) vaccine made by Merck. It is a recombinant viral / IM vaccine that was approved in 1986.

The names of the combination vaccines against Hepatitis B are:

  • Pediarix®: Combined hepatitis B, diphtheria, tetanus, acellular pertussis (DTaP), and inactivated poliovirus (IPV) vaccine. Cannot be administered before age 6 weeks or after age 7 years.
  • Twinrix®: Combined Hepatitis A and hepatitis B vaccine. Recommended for persons under 18 years old who are at increased risk for both Hepatitis A virus and HBV infections.
  • Comvax® (discontinued in 2014): Combined Hepatitis B-Haemophilus influenzae type-b (Hib) conjugate vaccine. Cannot be administered before age 6 weeks or after age 71 months.

Who should get the Hepatitis B vaccine?

Hepatitis B vaccination is recommended for infants, with the first vaccine given at birth. However, the vaccines may be delayed for very low birth-weight babies if the mother is immune to Hepatitis B.

Children and teenagers up to 18 years old who were not vaccinated when they were younger should be vaccinated against Hepatitis B.

Adults should get the Hepatitis B vaccine if they:

  • Live or have sex with someone who has Hepatitis B
  • Have sex with more than one partner
  • Seek care for STDs, HIV testing, or drug treatment
  • Men who have sex with men
  • Inject drugs
  • Have a job that involves contact with human blood
  • Work with developmentally disabled
  • Have end-stage renal disease or kidney failure
  • HIV infection
  • Hemodialysis patients
  • Chronic liver disease
  • Diabetes under age 60 years old
  • Live or travel for more than 6 months a year in countries where Hepatitis B is common
  • Prisoner in correctional facilities

Should I delay vaccinating my baby?

Immunization against Hepatitis B may be delayed if the baby is very sick, premature, low birth weight, or has a high fever over 101ºF.

Premature babies (under 32 weeks gestational age) are more at risk of developing infections, apnea (temporarily stop breathing), and other HepB vaccine side effects. If vaccination is delayed, the child will need an extra HepB vaccine at 12 months of age, for a total of four doses.

Vaccination should be delayed in infants with a birth weight under 2,000 grams if the mother was immune to Hepatitis B (HBsAg negative) when the baby is born. If the mother was not immune, the baby should receive the vaccine and HBIG (Hepatitis B Immune Globulin) within 12 hours of birth. It should be followed with a full 3-dose standard regimen, for a total of four doses of Hepatitis B vaccine.

How long does the vaccine protect me from Hepatitis B?

Healthy people who got their first Hepatitis B vaccine before they were 6 months old should be protected for at least 20 years.

What is the vaccine schedule for children?

The Hepatitis B vaccine schedule in people under 19 years old is a series of three 0.5-mL injections. The first shot is given shortly after birth. The second shot is given at 1-2 months of age. The third shot is given at 6-18 months of age.

What is the vaccine schedule for adults?

The Hepatitis B vaccine schedule for high-risk adults over 19 years old is a series of three 1-mL shots. The second shot is given 1 month after the first shot. The third shot is given 6 months after the second shot.

What are common Hepatitis B vaccine side effects?

The most common side effect is soreness where the Hepatitis B shot was injected. Up to 10% of people feel tired, dizzy, or have a headache, or develop a fever over 100ºF.

To learn more about the side effects associated with the hepatitis B vaccines, please visit this page: Hepatitis B Vaccine Side Effects.

What severe side effects have been reported?

  • Abnormal liver function tests
  • Allergic reaction
  • Angioedema
  • Apnea (temporarily stop breathing)
  • Asthma-like symptoms
  • Back pain
  • Bell’s palsy
  • Eczema
  • Encephalitis
  • Enlarged lymph nodes
  • Erythema multiforme
  • Facial paralysis
  • Fainting
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Gastrointestinal constipation, diarrhea, vomiting
  • Guillain-Barré syndrome
  • Hair loss
  • Heart palpitations
  • Joint pain
  • Meningitis
  • Migraine
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Nerve damage
  • Neuritis
  • Neuropathy including hypoesthesia (numbness)
  • Optic neuritis
  • Paralysis
  • Seizures
  • Serum sickness
  • Shoulder Injury Related to Vaccine Administration
  • SIRVA
  • Skin reactions
  • Stevens-Johnson Syndrome
  • Thrombocytopenia
  • Transverse myelitis
  • Guillain-Barré syndrome
  • Upper respiratory tract infection
  • Vasculitis
  • Weakness

Where can I get more information?

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