Hepatitis B Vaccine
It takes only 3 shots to protect yourself and your loved ones against hepatitis B for a lifetime.
The hepatitis B vaccine is a safe and effective vaccine that is recommended for all infants at birth and for children up to 18 years. The hepatitis B vaccine is also recommended for adults living with diabetes and those at high risk for infection due to their jobs, lifestyle, living situations, or country of birth. Since everyone is at some risk, all adults should seriously consider getting the hepatitis B vaccine for a lifetime protection against a preventable chronic liver disease.
The hepatitis B vaccine is also known as the first “anti-cancer” vaccine because it prevents hepatitis B, the leading cause of liver cancer worldwide.
You cannot get hepatitis B from the vaccine. All hepatitis B vaccines that have been used since 1986 are made synthetically – meaning the hepatitis B vaccines do not contain any blood products. Learn more.
If you have a current HBV infection (HBsAg positive) or have recovered from a past HBV infection, the hepatitis B vaccine series will not benefit you or clear the virus. However the vaccine will provide a lifetime of protection for loved ones. Testing is the only way to know if you or your loved ones have a current infection or have recovered from a past infection.
Hepatitis B Vaccine Recommendations
The hepatitis B vaccine is recommended for all infants and children up to age 18 years by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC also recommends that adults in high-risk groups be vaccinated (see below).
Every person may be at some risk for a hepatitis B infection during their lifetime, so getting the hepatitis B vaccine should be considered by all people. There are, however, groups that the CDC recommends should definitely receive the hepatitis B vaccine, which are listed below:
- All infants, beginning at birth
- All children aged <19 years who have not been vaccinated previously
- Susceptible sexual partners of hepatitis B-positive persons
- Sexually active persons who are not in a long-term, mutually monogamous relationship (e.g., >1 sex partner during the previous 6 months)
- Persons seeking evaluation or treatment for a sexually transmitted disease
- Men who have sex with men
- Injection drug users
- Susceptible household contacts of hepatitis B-positive persons
- Healthcare and public safety workers at risk for exposure to blood
- Persons with end-stage renal disease, including pre-dialysis, hemodialysis, peritoneal dialysis, and home dialysis patients
- Residents and staff of facilities for developmentally disabled persons
- Travelers to and families adopting from countries where hepatitis B is common (e.g. Asia, Africa, South America, Pacific Islands, Eastern Europe, and the Middle East)
- Persons with chronic liver disease, other than hepatitis B (e.g. cirrhosis, fatty liver disease, etc.)
- Persons with hepatitis C infection
- Persons with HIV infection
- Adults with diabetes aged 19 through 59 years (clinicians can decide whether or not to vaccinate their diabetic patients ≥60 years)
- All other persons seeking protection from HBV infection — acknowledgment of a specific risk factor is not a requirement for vaccination
Hepatitis B Vaccine Schedule
The hepatitis B vaccine is available at your doctor's office and local health department or clinic. Three doses are generally required to complete the hepatitis B vaccine series, although there is an accelerated two-dose series for adolescents age 11 through 15 years. It is important to remember that babies born to infected mothers must receive the first dose of hepatitis B vaccine in the delivery room or within the first 12 hours of life (learn more about hepatitis B and pregnancy).
- 1st Shot - At any given time, but newborns should receive this dose in the delivery room
- 2nd Shot - At least one month (or 28 days) after the 1st shot
- 3rd Shot - At least 4 months (16 weeks) after the 1st shot (or at least 2 months after the 2nd shot)
You do not need to restart the hepatitis B vaccine series if you miss any of the shots. For example, if you start the vaccine series and stop, then get the 2nd shot when you can and make sure to get the 3rd shot at least two months later. Or, if you get the first two doses of vaccine and miss the third dose, then just schedule the last shot when you can.
To be certain that you are protected against hepatitis B, ask for a simple blood test to check your “antibody titers” that will confirm whether the vaccination was successful.
Hepatitis B Vaccine Safety and Side Effects
More than 1 billion doses of the hepatitis B vaccine have been given worldwide and it 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 World Health Organization, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and many different medical societies.
No evidence has been found that the hepatitis B vaccine causes sudden infant deaths (SIDs), autism, multiple sclerosis, or other neurological disorders.
Common side effects from the hepatitis B vaccine may 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.