The hepatitis B vaccine protects against hepatitis B, a serious disease that damages the liver. This vaccine is one of the recommended childhood immunizations, but many adults also need to be vaccinated.
Vaccine - hepatitis B; Immunization - hepatitis B
The hepatitis B vaccine is made from the inactivated (dead) hepatitis B virus. After you get a hepatitis B vaccine, your body learns to attack the hepatitis B virus if you are exposed to it. This means you are very unlikely to get sick with hepatitis B.
Because no vaccine is 100% effective, it is still possible to get hepatitis B, even after you have been completely vaccinated.
WHO SHOULD GET THIS VACCINE
The hepatitis B vaccine is given to children as a series of three injections (shots).
Infants who do not get the first shot until 4 to 8 weeks will get the second shot at 4 months and the third shot at 6 to 16 months. Either way, the second and third shots are given along with other routine childhood immunizations.
Adolescents who have not been vaccinated should begin the three-shot hepatitis B vaccine series at the earliest possible date.
Adults or children who have not already received the vaccine should get the vaccine series if they:
Adults can receive the hepatitis B vaccine only, or a vaccine called Twinrix that protects against both hepatitis A and B. Either series is given in 3 doses.
RISKS AND SIDE EFFECTS
Most infants who receive the hepatitis B vaccine have no side effects. Others may have minor problems, such as soreness and redness at the injection site or a mild fever. Serious problems are rare and are mainly due to allergic reactions to a part of the vaccine.
If the child is ill with something more serious than a cold, the hepatitis B vaccine may be delayed.
Children who have had a severe allergic reaction to baker's yeast should not receive this vaccine.
A child who has a severe allergic reaction after receiving the vaccine should not get another hepatitis B vaccine.
CALL YOUR HEALTH CARE PROVIDER IF:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Recommended adult immunization schedule -- United States, 2012. MMWR 2012;61(4).
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Recommended immunization schedules for persons aged 0 through 18 years -- United States, 2012, MMWR 2012;61(05):1-4.