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Hepatitis B Vaccine


What is the hepatitis B vaccine?

The vaccine is an injection that helps protect you from the virus that causes hepatitis B. Hepatitis B is a serious liver infection. The virus is usually spread through contact with the blood or body fluids of an infected person. You can also get it by touching an object that has the virus on it. The virus can live on an object for up to 7 days. A baby can be infected at birth if his or her mother has hepatitis B.

Who should get the hepatitis B vaccine?

You will need the vaccine if you did not receive it as a child and you are at risk for hepatitis B. Adults usually get 2 to 4 doses of the vaccine over 6 months. The second dose is given 4 weeks after the first. The third dose is given 5 months after the second. The following adults should get the hepatitis B vaccine:

  • Men who have sex with men
  • Anyone who has more than one sex partner, or who has a sex partner who is infected with hepatitis B
  • Anyone who injects illegal drugs or shares needles or syringes with others
  • Anyone who has a chronic liver or kidney disease
  • Anyone who has diabetes and is younger than 60 years, or if recommended by a healthcare provider for those older than 60
  • Anyone who may be exposed to blood or body fluids at work
  • Anyone who lives in the same house as a person who has hepatitis B
  • Anyone who lives or works in an institution for developmentally disabled persons
  • Anyone who is receiving kidney dialysis
  • Anyone who is traveling to a country where hepatitis B is common
  • Anyone who is HIV-positive
  • A woman who is pregnant and at risk for hepatitis B

Who should not get the hepatitis B vaccine or should wait to get it?

If you are sick, wait until your symptoms go away before you get the vaccine. You should not get the vaccine if you have a severe allergy to yeast or to any part of the hepatitis B vaccine. You should not get a second dose of the vaccine if you had a severe allergic reaction to the first dose.

What are the risks of the hepatitis B vaccine?

The area where you got the shot may be sore. This usually gets better in 1 to 2 days. You may have a low fever. Rarely, you may develop severe shoulder pain that lasts longer than 2 days. You may have an allergic reaction to the vaccine. This can be life-threatening. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, ask if it is safe for you to get the hepatitis B vaccine.

Call your local emergency number (911 in the US) if:

  • You have signs of a severe allergic reaction, such as trouble breathing, hives, or wheezing.

When should I call my doctor?

  • You have a high fever or behavior changes that concern you.
  • You have questions or concerns about the hepatitis B vaccine.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.