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Hepatitis B Vaccine

Side Effects and Safety - Vaccine Recommendations - Vaccine Schedule - Vaccine Cost - Approved Hepatitis B Vaccines

It takes only 3 shots to protect yourself and your loved ones against hepatitis B for a lifetime.

In 1981, the Food and Drug Administration approved the first vaccine for hepatitis B, which was plasma-derived (i.e. made from blood products). This vaccine was discontinued in 1990 and is no longer available in the U.S. 

The currently used hepatitis B vaccines are made synthetically (i.e. they do not contain blood products) and have been available in the U.S. since 1986. You cannot get hepatitis B from the vaccine. Learn more.

This safe and effective vaccine is recommended for all infants at birth and for children up to 18 years. Adults, especially those who fall into a high-risk group, should also seriously consider getting the hepatitis B vaccine.

Vaccine Side Effects and Safety

Common side effects include soreness, swelling and redness at the injection site. The vaccine may not be recommended for those with documented yeast allergies or a history of an adverse reaction to the vaccine.

The Hepatitis B vaccine is considered one of the safest and most effective vaccines ever made. Numerous studies looking at the vaccine's safety have been conducted by the Centers for Disease Control, World Health Organization, and other professional medical associations. They have not found any evidence that the vaccine causes sudden infant deaths (SIDs), multiple sclerosis, or other neurological disorders.

Vaccine Recommendations

The hepatitis B vaccine is recommended specifically for all infants and children by the Centers for Disease Control and the American Academy of Pediatrics. The CDC also recommends that adults in high-risk groups be vaccinated.

The following list is a general guide for vaccination, but since every person is at some risk for infection, these guidelines should be individualized for each situation.

  • All infants at birth and all children up to 18 years.
  • Health care professionals and emergency personnel.
  • Sexually active teens and adults
  • Men who have sex with men.
  • Sex partners or close family/household members living with an infected person.
  • Families considering adoption, either domestic or international.
  • Travelers to countries where hepatitis B is common (Asia, Africa, South America, the Pacific Islands, Eastern Europe, and the Middle East).
  • Patients with kidney disease or undergoing dialysis.
  • Residents and staff of correctional facilities and group homes.
  • Any person who may fall into a high risk group due to occupation or lifestyle choices.
  • People living with type 1 or type 2 diabetes.

Vaccine Schedule

The vaccine is readily available at your doctor's office or local health clinic. Three doses are generally required to complete the hepatitis B vaccine series, although there is an accelerated two-dose series for adolescents.

  • First Injection - At any given time
  • Second Injection - At least one month after the first dose
  • Third Injection - Six months after the first dose

Cost of Vaccine

The three-shot vaccine series for children in the United States usually costs $75 to $165, but this can vary. Infants up to age 18 months, and sometimes older children, can receive the vaccine free of charge from most local public health clinics.

Insurance companies will usually cover the cost of vaccines for infants and children. There is also a federal program to help cover the cost of children's vaccines. For more information, contact the web linkVaccines for Children Program.

The hepatitis B vaccine costs more for adults. If an adult is in a high-risk group, the cost may be also covered by insurance. Contact your insurance company for more information about the hepatitis B vaccine.

Approved Hepatitis B Vaccines

There are currently two commercial vaccines used to prevent hepatitis B infection among infants, children and adults in the United States. They are both manufactured using recombinant technology and neither contains blood products. You cannot get hepatitis B from these vaccines. Learn more.

web linkEngerix-B, produced by web linkGlaxoSmithKline

web linkRecombivax HB, produced by web linkMerck

There is also a combination vaccine for hepatitis A and B available for adults:
web linkTwinRix, produced by GlaxoSmithKline.


Page last modified February 26, 2013

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