Hepatitis B Vaccine
The hepatitis B vaccine can protect a person against hepatitis B
for at least 23 years. Among the people who should get the
hepatitis B vaccine are healthcare workers, international
travelers, and people with a chronic liver disease.
hepatitis B vaccine is given as a series of injections -- a
single shot, followed by a second injection one month later, and
then a third shot six months later. There are very few side
effects associated with the hepatitis B vaccine. There is no
risk of getting the disease from receiving the hepatitis B
An Overview of the Hepatitis B Vaccine
A vaccine is a drug that you take when you are healthy that
keeps you from getting sick. Vaccines teach your body to attack
certain viruses, like the hepatitis B virus. Vaccination is the
best way to prevent a hepatitis B infection along with its
serious consequences, which can include hepatocellular carcinoma
Candidates for Hepatitis B Vaccination
Anyone 18 years of age or younger should be vaccinated against
the hepatitis B virus. In
addition, you may need the hepatitis B vaccine if you over the
age of 18 and:
Have a chronic liver disease, such as hepatitis C
Live in, or were born in, areas where hepatitis B is common
Have a sex partner who has hepatitis B or have multiple sex
Are a man who has sex with other men
Share a household with someone who has hepatitis B
Work in a high-risk profession, especially if you are in the
military or are a healthcare worker, emergency worker, police
officer, firefighter, or mortician
Are an international traveler
Are in prison
Receive blood products or are on hemodialysis.
Certain ethnic groups have higher rates of hepatitis B virus
infection. You may need the hepatitis B vaccine if you are:
Should Not Get the Hepatitis B Vaccine? Who Should Wait to Get
You should NOT get the hepatitis B vaccine:
If you have had a severe (life-threatening) allergic reaction
to a previous dose of hepatitis B vaccine.
If you have had a severe (life-threatening) allergy to any
vaccine component or to baker's yeast (the kind used to make
bread). Tell your doctor if you have any severe allergies.
If you are moderately or severely ill at the time you are
scheduled to receive the shot, you should wait until you have
recovered before getting the hepatitis B vaccine. If you are
ill, ask your doctor or nurse whether you should receive the
vaccine. People with a mild illness can usually get it.
Be sure to tell your doctor if you are pregnant. The safety of
the hepatitis B vaccine for pregnant women has not been
determined; however, there is no evidence that it is harmful to
either pregnant women or their unborn babies. The risk, if any,
is thought to be very low.
How Is the Hepatitis B Vaccine Given?
For both children and adults, the vaccine should be given as
three shots. The vaccine is given as follows: a single shot,
followed by a second injection one month later, and then a third
shot six months later.
People who are infected with another virus, such as the human
immunodeficiency virus (HIV), or who have problems with their
immune system, may need larger doses of the hepatitis B vaccine.
Babies born to infected mothers should get the first shot within
12 hours after birth, followed by a second shot one month later,
and the third shot six months later. Babies born to mothers who
are not infected with the hepatitis B virus should get the first
shot within one to two months after birth, the second shot at
least a month later, and the third shot six months later.
Older children, adolescents, or adults can get their first shot
anytime. The second shot is given one to two months after the
first shot. The third shot is given four to six months after the
How Long Does the Hepatitis B Vaccine Protect You?
Recent studies show that after receiving the hepatitis B
vaccine, you will be protected for at least 23 years.
Booster doses of hepatitis B vaccine are not recommended
routinely for people who are not immune compromised. Data show
that vaccine-induced anti-HBs levels might decline over time;
however, immune memory remains intact indefinitely following
immunization. Immune-competent people with declining antibody
levels are still protected against clinical illness and chronic
Side Effects With the Hepatitis B Vaccine
There are very few side effects from the hepatitis B vaccine.
The most common side effects are soreness where you got the shot
and mild fever.
You will not get hepatitis B from the vaccine.