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Hepatitis B vaccine - what you need to know

All content below is taken in its entirety from the CDC Hepatitis B Vaccine Information Statement (VIS): www.cdc.gov/vaccines/hcp/vis/vis-statements/hep-b.html.

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1. Why get vaccinated?

Hepatitis B vaccine can prevent hepatitis B. Hepatitis B is a liver disease that can cause mild illness lasting a few weeks, or it can lead to a serious, lifelong illness.

Hepatitis B is spread when blood, semen, or other body fluid infected with the hepatitis B virus enters the body of a person who is not infected. People can become infected through:

Most people who are vaccinated with hepatitis B vaccine are immune for life.

2. Hepatitis B vaccine. 

Hepatitis B vaccine is usually given as 2, 3, or 4 shots.

Infants should get their first dose of hepatitis B vaccine at birth and will usually complete the series at 6-18 months of age. The birth dose of hepatitis B vaccine is an important part of preventing long-term illness in infants and the spread of hepatitis B in the United States.

Children and adolescents younger than 19 years of age who have not yet gotten the vaccine should also be vaccinated.

Adults who were not vaccinated previously and want to be protected against hepatitis B can also get the vaccine.

Hepatitis B vaccine is also recommended for the following people:

Hepatitis B vaccine may be given as a stand-alone vaccine, or as part of a combination vaccine (a type of vaccine that combines more than one vaccine together into one shot).

Hepatitis B vaccine may be given at the same time as other vaccines.

3. Talk with your health care provider. 

Tell your vaccination provider if the person getting the vaccine:

In some cases, your health care provider may decide to postpone hepatitis B vaccination until a future visit.

Pregnant or breastfeeding people should be vaccinated if they are at risk for getting hepatitis B. Pregnancy or breastfeeding are not reasons to avoid hepatitis B vaccination. 

People with minor illnesses, such as a cold, may be vaccinated. People who are moderately or severely ill should usually wait until they recover before getting hepatitis B vaccine.

Your health care provider can give you more information.

4. Risks of a vaccine reaction. 

People sometimes faint after medical procedures, including vaccination. Tell your provider if you feel dizzy or have vision changes or ringing in the ears.

As with any medicine, there is a very remote chance of a vaccine causing a severe allergic reaction, other serious injury, or death.

5. What if there is a serious problem?

An allergic reaction could occur after the vaccinated person leaves the clinic. If you see signs of a severe allergic reaction (hives, swelling of the face and throat, difficulty breathing, a fast heartbeat, dizziness, or weakness), call 9-1-1 and get the person to the nearest hospital.

For other signs that concern you, call your health care provider.

Adverse reactions should be reported to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). Your health care provider will usually file this report, or you can do it yourself. Visit the VAERS website at vaers.hhs.gov or call 1-800-822-7967. VAERS is only for reporting reactions, and VAERS staff members do not give medical advice.

6. The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. 

The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) is a federal program that was created to compensate people who may have been injured by certain vaccines. Claims regarding alleged injury or death due to vaccination have a time limit for filing, which may be as short as two years. Visit the VICP website at www.hrsa.gov/vaccine-compensation/index.html or call 1-800-338-2382 to learn about the program and about filing a claim.

7. How can I learn more?

Contact the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

References

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Vaccine information statements (VIS): Hepatitis B VIS. www.cdc.gov/vaccines/hcp/vis/vis-statements/hep-b.html. Updated October 15, 2021. Accessed October 20, 2021.

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Review Date: 10/15/2021  

Reviewed By: Reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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