What Is Hepatitis B?
| What Is the Hepatitis B Vaccine?
| Who Should Get Vaccinated and When?
| What Are the Risks Associated With the Hepatitis B Vaccine?
| Who Should Not Get Vaccinated?
| What Other Ways Can Hepatitis B Be Prevented Besides Vaccination?
| What Happens in the Event of an Outbreak?
What Is 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.
What Is the Hepatitis B Vaccine?
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.
Who Should Get Vaccinated and When?
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:
- Having multiple sex partners
Getting treatment or counseling for a
sexually transmitted disease
- Being a man who has sex with other men
- Being an IV drug user or having a history of injecting drugs
chronic kidney disease, liver disease, or
- Having diabetes if you are younger than 60 years old
- Having a job where you might be exposed to HBV-infected blood or body fluids
- Working or living in an institution for the developmentally disabled
- Living with or working with people who have chronic HBV infection
- Traveling to areas where there is a high rate of HBV infection
What Are the Risks Associated With the Hepatitis B Vaccine?
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.
Who Should Not Get Vaccinated?
You should not get the vaccine if you:
- Had a life-threatening allergic reaction to baker's yeast or to a previous dose of hepatitis B vaccine
- Are moderately or severely ill—Wait until you recover to get the vaccine.
What Other Ways Can Hepatitis B Be Prevented Besides Vaccination?
Other than getting the hepatitis B vaccine, the best methods of preventing an HBV infection include:
- Practicing safe sex
- Getting a blood test for hepatitis B if you are pregnant
- Avoiding illegal drugs
- Not using other people's personal care items that may have blood on them, such as razors or toothbrushes
- Considering the risks before getting a tattoo or body piercing
- Following safety precautions when handling needles or other sharp objects
What Happens in the Event of an Outbreak?
In the event of an outbreak, all susceptible people should be offered the vaccine.
WHERE CAN I GET MORE INFORMATION?
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.
Last reviewed September 2013 by Kim Carmichael, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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