Hepatitis B is a highly contagious, serious liver disease caused by the hepatitis B virus. It is spread through contact with the blood or other body fluids of an infected person, including contact with objects that could have blood or body fluids on them such as toothbrushes and razors. The hepatitis B virus can cause:
Acute (short-term) illness, the symptoms of which are flu-like and include loss of appetite, tiredness, joint and muscle pain, diarrhea, vomiting and jaundice. Most adults who get hepatitis B have this acute form of hepatitis B, and then get better.
Chronic (long-term) infection which can be very serious, and often leads to liver damage, liver cancer, or death. Babies and young children infected with hepatitis B are more likely to get this chronic form of the disease.
The hepatitis B vaccine is the best way to prevent infection. It is a series of 3 or 4 shots usually given over a 6-to-12 month period. It is given by an injection into the arm muscle of adolescents and adults and thigh muscle of infants and young children. Estimates of long-term protection for those getting the full vaccination (3 or 4 doses) suggest that protection from hepatitis B could last for up to 20 or 30 years and possibly for life.
Severe problems (rare):
Over-the-counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen can help ease pain and reduce fever.
It's extremely rare for these vaccines to cause serious harm or death. If the person getting the vaccine has a serious reaction, call the doctor or seek immediate medical attention.
The hepatitis B vaccine is available at:
Healthcare Clinic for patients aged 7+.
Walgreens Pharmacy. Ages vary by state.
If you believe you have a medical emergency, please call 911.
Tell your doctor or a healthcare provider if the person getting the vaccine has any severe allergies.
Call the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) at 800-232-4636 or visit www.cdc.gov/vaccines for more vaccine information.
Hamborsky J, Kroger A, Wolfe S, eds. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).Epidemiology and Prevention of Vaccine-Preventable Diseases. 13th ed. Washington, DC: Public Health Foundation, 2015.
Vaccine Information Statement: Hepatitis B Vaccine (What You Need to Know) February 2, 2012. http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/hcp/vis/vis-statements/hep-b.pdf. Accessed June 2016.
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Vaccine subject to availability. Age, state, and health related restrictions apply.