Hepatitis B is a disease caused by the hepatitis B virus (HBV). This virus attacks the liver. The disease can cause:
HBV is spread through the blood or other body fluids of an infected person.
Most hepatitis B infections clear up without treatment. Others develop into chronic hepatitis B. This can lead to serious complications, even death.
The hepatitis B vaccine is produced by inserting a gene for HBV into yeast. The yeast is grown, harvested, and purified. The vaccine is given as an injection into the muscle. This is usually given in a series of 3-4 shots during a 6-month period.
Newborns routinely receive the first dose of the hepatitis B vaccine before leaving the hospital. Two more injections are given to all infants at:
Depending on the type of vaccine, some babies may receive 4 doses.
Children and teens (aged 18 years or younger) who have not been immunized as babies can also get the vaccine. For children aged 11-15 years, there is a two-dose series available, called Recombivax HB.
It is recommended that adults (aged 18 years or older) get vaccinated if they are at high risk for hepatitis B. High risk includes:
All vaccines are capable of causing serious problems, such as a severe allergic reaction.
Most people who get the hepatitis B vaccine do not have problems. Some may have mild problems, including soreness where the shot was given and fever.
Acetaminophen is sometimes given to reduce pain and fever that may occur after getting a vaccine. In infants, the medication may weaken the vaccine's effectiveness. Discuss the risks and benefits of taking acetaminophen with the doctor.
You should not get the vaccine if you:
Other than getting the hepatitis B vaccine, the best methods of preventing an HBV infection include:
In the event of an outbreak, all susceptible people should be offered the vaccine.
WHERE CAN I GET MORE INFORMATION?
National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse
National Immunization Program
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Hepatitis B. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/diseases/hepatitis/b/factvax.htm . Accessed February 6, 2007.
Hepatitis B FAQs for the public. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/B/bFAQ.htm . Updated June 9, 2009. Accessed August 28, 2013.
Hepatitis B vaccination. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd-vac/hepb/default.htm . Accessed August 28, 2013.
Hepatitis B Vaccine Recombinant. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed.ebscohost.com/about/about-us . Updated July 3, 2013. Accessed August 28, 2013.
Immunization schedules. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available: http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/schedules/index.html . Updated January 29, 2013. Accessed August 28, 2013.
Vaccine information statement: hepatitis B vaccine. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/hcp/vis/vis-statements/hep-b.html . Updated February 2, 2012. Accessed August 28, 2013.
Workowski KA, Berman S, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Sexually Transmitted Diseases Treatment Guidelines, 2010. MMWR . 2010;59(No. RR-12):1-110.
10/30/2009 2013 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance https://dynamed.ebscohost.com/about/about-us : Prymula R, Siegrist C, Chlibek R, et al. Effect of prophylactic paracetamol administration at time of vaccination on febrile reactions and antibody responses in children: two open-label, randomised controlled trials. Lancet . 2009;374(9698):1339.
Last reviewed September 2013 by Kim Carmichael, MD
Last Updated: 9/30/2013