Why get vaccinated?
Hepatitis B is a serious disease.
The hepatitis B virus (HBV) can cause short-term (acute) illness that leads to:
- Loss of appetite
- Diarrhea and vomiting
- Jaundice (yellow skin or eyes)
- Pain in muscles, joints, and stomach
It can also cause long-term (chronic) illness that leads to:
- Liver damage (cirrhosis)
- Liver cancer
Why is hepatitis B a concern?
The younger the person, the greater the likelihood of staying infected with hepatitis B and having life-long liver problems, such as scarring of the liver and liver cancer.
Who should get hepatitis B vaccine and when?
1) Everyone 18 years of age and younger
2) Adults over 18 who are at risk
Adults at risk for HBV infection include:
- People who have more than one sex partner in 6 months
- Men who have sex with other men
- Sex contacts of infected people
- People who inject illegal drugs
- Health care workers and public safety workers who might be exposed to infected blood or body fluids
- Household contacts of persons with chronic hepatitis B virus infection
- Hemodialysis patients
People should get 3 doses of hepatitis B vaccine according to the following schedule. If you miss a dose or get behind schedule, get the next dose as soon as you can. There is no need to start over.
For an infant whose mother is infected with HBV:
- First Dose: Within 12 hours of birth
- Second Dose: 1 to 2 months of age
- Third Dose: 6 months of age
For an infant whose mother is not infected with HBV:
- First Dose: Birth to 2 months of age
- Second Dose: 1 to 4 months of age (at least 1 month after the first dose)
- Third Dose: 6 to 18 months of age
For an older child, adolescent, or adult:
- First Dose: Any time
- Second Dose: 1 to 2 months after the first dose
- Third Dose: 4 to 6 months after the first dose
- The second dose must be given at least 1 month after the first dose.
- The third dose must be given at least 2 months after the second dose and at least 4 months after the first.
- The third dose should not be given to infants younger than 6 months of age, because this could reduce long-term protection.
Adolescents 11 to 15 years of age may need only two doses of hepatitis B vaccine, separated by 4 to 6 months. Ask your health care provider for details.
What are the risks from Hepatitis B Vaccine?
A vaccine, like any medication, is capable of causing serious problems, such as severe allergic reactions. The risk of hepatitis B vaccine causing serious harm, or death, is extremely small. Persons who have a life-threatening allergy to baker's yeast should not receive the hepatitis B vaccine.
Receiving hepatitis B vaccine is much safer than contracting hepatitis B disease. Most people who receive hepatitis B vaccine do not have any problems with it.
Risks may include:
- Soreness in the location where the shot was given, lasting a day or two
- Serious allergic reaction (very rare)
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