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Hepatitis B Vaccine

Facts about hepatitis B: About 1.25 million people in the U.S. have chronic hepatitis B virus infection. Each year it is estimated that:

  • 200,000 people, mostly young adults, get infected with hepatitis B virus
  • More than 11,000 people have to stay in the hospital because of hepatitis B
  • 4,000 to 5,000 people die from chronic hepatitis B

Who should get hepatitis B vaccine?

  • Everyone 18 years of age or younger
  • Adults over 18 who are at risk

Adults at risk for hepatitis B virus infection include people who have more than one sex partner, men who have sex with other men, injection drug users, health care workers, and others who might be exposed to infected blood or bodily fluids.

Some people who should not get hepatitis B vaccine or should wait:

  • People who have had a life-threatening allergic reaction to baker's yeast (the kind used for making bread) or to a previous dose of hepatitis B vaccine.
  • People who are moderately or severely ill at the time the shot is scheduled should usually wait until they recover before getting hepatitis B vaccine.

What are the risks for patients from hepatitis B vaccine?

The risk of hepatitis B vaccine causing serious harm, or death, is extremely small, however, mild side effects may arise, such as:

  • Soreness where the shot was given, lasting a day or two (up to 1 out of 11 children and adolescents, and about 1 out of 4 adults).
  • Mild to moderate fever (up to 1 out of 14 children and adolescents, and 1 out of 100 adults).

In the event of a moderate or severe reaction, physicians should ascertain the date and time of the reaction as well as when the vaccination was administered. Physicians should contact the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) at 1-800-822-7967 or on the web.

Additional information is available from the CDC on >Hepatitis B.

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