Hepatitis B virus affects the liver. Those who are infected can become lifelong carriers of the virus and may develop long-term problems such as cirrhosis (liver disease) or cancer of the liver.
Hepatitis B vaccine (HBV) usually is given as a series of three injections:
If the mother of a newborn carries the hepatitis B virus in her blood, her baby must receive the vaccine within 12 hours after birth, along with another shot — hepatitis B immune globulin (HBIG) — to immediately provide protection against the virus. If a newborn's mother shows no evidence of the virus in her blood, the baby can receive the HBV any time prior to leaving the hospital.
The HBV injection usually creates long-term immunity. Infants who receive the HBV series should be protected from hepatitis B infection not only throughout their childhood but also into their adult years.
Eliminating the risk of infection also decreases risk for cirrhosis of the liver, chronic liver disease, and liver cancer. Young adults and adolescents also should receive the vaccine if they did not as infants.
There is a very small chance of an allergic reaction with any vaccine. Serious problems associated with receiving the vaccine are rare. Problems that do occur tend to be minor, such as mild fever and soreness or redness at the injection site.
The vaccine is not recommended if your child:
The vaccine may cause mild fever and soreness or redness in the area where the shot was given. Depending on your child's age, pain and fever may be treated with acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Very young infants should not be given either medication, but for older babies or kids, check with the doctor about the appropriate medication and dose.
Reviewed by: Elana Pearl Ben-Joseph, MD
Date reviewed: February 2015
|CDC: Vaccines & Immunizations The CDC's site has information on vaccines, including immunization schedules, recommendations, FAQs, and more.|
|Immunization Action Coalition This organization is a source of childhood, adolescent, and adult immunization information as well as hepatitis B educational materials.|
|CDC: Preteen and Teen Vaccines CDC site provides materials in English and Spanish for parents, teens, preteens, and health care providers about vaccines and the diseases they prevent.|
|The History of Vaccines The History of Vaccines is an informational, educational website created by The College of Physicians of Philadelphia, the oldest professional society in the United States.|
|Word! Vaccine A vaccine is another word for what most kids call a shot.|
|Hepatitis Hepatitis is most commonly caused by one of three viruses. In its early stages, hepatitis may cause flu-like symptoms.|
|Immunization Schedule Which vaccines does your child need to receive and when? Use this immunization schedule as a handy reference.|
|Your Child's Immunizations Immunizations protect your child from potentially fatal diseases. Find out what vaccines your child needs to grow up healthy.|
|What Can I Do to Ease My Child's Fear of Shots? Find out what the experts have to say.|
|Hepatitis Hepatitis, an infectious liver disease, is more contagious than HIV, and just like HIV, there is no cure. Find out how to protect yourself.|
|Hepatitis B (HBV) Hepatitis B can move from one person to another through blood and other bodily fluids. For this reason, people usually get it through unprotected sex or by sharing needles.|
|Hepatitis It's sneaky, it's silent, and it can permanently harm your liver. Read this article for more information on hepatitis.|
|Immunizations Missing out on shots puts you at more serious risk than you might think. That one little "ouch" moment protects you from some major health problems.|
|Your Child's Immunizations: Hepatitis A Vaccine (HAV) Find out when and why your child needs to get this vaccine.|
|5 Tips for Surviving Shots If you're afraid of shots, you're not alone. Next time your doc asks you to roll up your sleeve, try these tips.|
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