The hepatitis B vaccine protects against hepatitis B, a serious disease that damages the liver. The vaccine is one of the recommended childhood immunizations.
WHO SHOULD GET THIS VACCINE
The hepatitis B vaccine is given to children in a a series of three injections (shots).
- The first shot is given to infants before leaving the hospital. If the baby's mother carries the hepatitis B virus, the baby receives the first vaccine shortly after birth.
- The second shot is given between 1 and 2 months of age.
- The third shot is given at 6 months of age.
For infants who do not receive the first shot until 4 to 8 weeks, the second shot is given at 4 months and the third at 6 to 16 months. In either instance, the second and third shots are given along with other routine childhood immunizations.
Adolescents who have not been vaccinated should begin the hepatitis B vaccine series at the earliest possible date.
RISKS AND SIDE EFFECTS
Most infants who receive the hepatitis B vaccine have no side effects. Others may have minor problems, such as soreness and redness at the injection site or a mild fever. Serious problems are rare and are mainly due to allergic reactions to a component of the vaccine.
If the child is ill with something more serious than a cold, the hepatitis B vaccine may be delayed.
If the child has a severe allergic reaction to baker's yeast, they should not receive this vaccine.
If severe allergic reaction occurs after receiving the vaccine, no further hepatitis B vaccines should be given to the child.
CALL YOUR PRIMARY HEALTH CARE PROVIDER IF:
- You are not sure if your child should receive this vaccine
- Moderate or serious side effects appear after receiving the vaccine
- You have any questions or concerns
American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Infectious Diseases. Recommended immunization schedules for children and adolescents--United States, 2008. Pediatrics. 2008 Jan;121(1):219-20.
Recommended Immunization Schedule for Persons Aged 7–18 Years--United States, 2008. MMWR. October 19, 2007 / 56(41);Q1-Q4.
Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. Recommended adult immunization schedule: United States, October 2007-September 2008. Ann Intern Med. 2007 Nov 20;147(10):725-9.