Skip to Content

Recombivax HB Adult

Generic Name: hepatitis B adult vaccine (HEP a TYE tis B a DULT VAX een)
Brand Name: Engerix-B, Heplisav-B, Recombivax HB Adult, Recombivax HB Dialysis Formulation

Medically reviewed on May 7, 2018

What is hepatitis B vaccine?

Hepatitis is a serious disease caused by a virus. Hepatitis causes inflammation of the liver, vomiting, and jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes). Hepatitis can lead to liver cancer, cirrhosis, or death.

Hepatitis B is a disease of the liver that is spread through blood or bodily fluids, sexual contact or sharing IV drug needles with an infected person, or during childbirth when the mother is infected.

The Recombivax HB Adult is used to help prevent this disease in adults.

This vaccine works by exposing you to a small amount of the virus, which causes the body to develop immunity to the disease. This vaccine will not treat an active infection that has already developed in the body.

Vaccination with Recombivax HB Adult is recommended for all adults who are at risk of getting hepatitis B. Risk factors include: having more than one sex partner; being a homosexual male; having sexual contact with infected people; having chronic liver disease; having diabetes and being under age 60; having HIV or AIDS; using intravenous (IV) drugs; being on dialysis or receiving blood transfusions; working in an institution for developmentally disabled patients; working in healthcare or public safety and being exposed to human blood; being in the military or traveling to high-risk areas; and living with a person who has hepatitis B.

Like any vaccine, the hepatitis B vaccine may not provide protection from disease in every person.

Important Information

You should not receive hepatitis B vaccine if you are allergic to baker's yeast.

This vaccine will not protect against hepatitis B if you are already infected with the virus, even if you do not yet show symptoms.

Before taking this medicine

Hepatitis B vaccine will not protect against infection with hepatitis A, C, and E, or other viruses that affect the liver. It may also not protect against hepatitis B if you are already infected with the virus, even if you do not yet show symptoms.

You should not receive this vaccine if you have ever had a life-threatening allergic reaction to any vaccine containing hepatitis B, or if you are allergic to baker's yeast.

If you have any of these other conditions, your vaccine may need to be postponed or not given at all:

  • multiple sclerosis;

  • kidney disease (or if you are on dialysis);

  • a bleeding or blood clotting disorder such as hemophilia or easy bruising;

  • an allergy to latex rubber; or

  • a neurologic disorder or disease affecting the brain (or if this was a reaction to a previous vaccine).

You can still receive a vaccine if you have a minor cold. In the case of a more severe illness with a fever or any type of infection, wait until you get better before receiving this vaccine.

It is not known whether this vaccine will harm an unborn baby. However, if you are at a high risk for infection with hepatitis B during pregnancy, your doctor should determine whether you need this vaccine.

It may not be safe to breast-feed while receiving Recombivax HB Adult. Ask your doctor about any risk.

How is this vaccine given?

This vaccine is given as an injection (shot) into a muscle. A healthcare provider will give you this injection.

The hepatitis B vaccine is given in a series of shots. The booster shots are sometimes given 1 month and 6 months after the first shot. If you have a high risk of hepatitis B infection, you may be given an additional booster 1 to 2 months after the third shot.

Your individual booster schedule may be different from these guidelines. Follow your doctor's instructions or the schedule recommended by the health department of the state you live in.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Contact your doctor if you will miss a booster dose or if you get behind schedule. The next dose should be given as soon as possible. There is no need to start over.

Be sure to receive all recommended doses of this vaccine or you may not be fully protected against disease.

What happens if I overdose?

An overdose of this vaccine is unlikely to occur.

What should I avoid before or after receiving this vaccine?

Follow your doctor's instructions about any restrictions on food, beverages, or activity.

This vaccine side effects

Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction (hives, difficult breathing, swelling in your face or throat) or a severe skin reaction (fever, sore throat, burning eyes, skin pain, red or purple skin rash with blistering and peeling).

You should not receive a booster vaccine if you had a life-threatening allergic reaction after the first shot.

Keep track of any and all side effects you have after receiving this vaccine. When you receive a booster dose, you will need to tell the doctor if the previous shot caused any side effects.

Becoming infected with hepatitis B is much more dangerous to your health than receiving this vaccine. However, like any medicine, this vaccine can cause side effects but the risk of serious side effects is extremely low.

Call your doctor at once if you have:

  • high fever, sore throat, and headache with a severe blistering, peeling, and red skin rash;

  • changes in behavior;

  • bruising or bleeding; or

  • fever, swollen glands, itching, joint pain, or not feeling well.

Common side effects include:

  • redness, pain, swelling, or a lump where the shot was given;

  • diarrhea, loss of appetite;

  • headache, dizziness, weakness;

  • low fever;

  • feeling tired or irritable; or

  • runny nose.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report vaccine side effects to the US Department of Health and Human Services at 1-800-822-7967.

What other drugs will affect hepatitis B vaccine?

Other drugs may affect this vaccine, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Tell your doctor about all your current medicines and any medicine you start or stop using.

Further information

Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.

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

Hide