is the hepatitis B vaccine?
The hepatitis B vaccine
is the first anti-cancer vaccine because it
prevents hepatitis B infections, which can
lead to liver cancer later in life. The vaccine
is made in a chemistry lab. No human blood
is used in the vaccine, so you cannot get hepatitis
B from the vaccine. There are two brands of
vaccine in the United States: Recombivax HB
(Merck) and Engerix B (GlaxoSmithKline). Although
both vaccines will provide equal protection
against hepatitis B, doctors may order one
brand or another.
How is the
In general, the hepatitis
B vaccine series includes two or three shots
that are given over a six month period. Adults
and children receive shots in their arm. Babies
receive shots in their leg. After the first dose
of vaccine, you will start to develop protection
within several weeks. So it's never too late
to start. It is very important to complete the
entire series of the vaccine to obtain full protection
against hepatitis B. The vaccine can be given
in your doctor's office or a local health clinic.
Anyone who falls into
a "high risk" group for infection (see General
Information) should be vaccinated. All newborn
babies and children up to age 18 years should
be vaccinated. Most states now require the hepatitis
B vaccine for school entry. Many colleges are
also requiring the vaccine for its students.
Asian adults, including pregnant women, are at
high risk and should talk to their doctor about
being tested and getting the vaccine.
Hepatitis B can be
prevented through vaccination - it only take
three shots to protect yourself and loved ones
for a lifetime against hepatitis B.
Is the vaccine
Yes, the hepatitis
B vaccine is considered one of the safest vaccines
ever made. More than one billion doses have been
given throughout the world. Medical and scientific
studies have shown that it is very safe and effective.
The vaccine is made in a laboratory. You cannot
get hepatitis B from the vaccine.
Are there any
side effects from the vaccine?
The most common side
effects are redness and soreness in the arm where
the shot is given. Make sure you discuss with
your doctor any possible allergic reactions or
side effects before getting the vaccine.