How Is The Hepatitis B Vaccine Made
People are protected against hepatitis B virus infection by making an immune response to a protein that sits on the surface of the virus. When hepatitis B virus grows in the liver, an excess amount of this surface protein is made. The hepatitis B vaccine is made by taking the part of the virus that makes surface protein and putting it into yeast cells. The yeast cells then produce many copies of the protein that are subsequently used to make the vaccine. When the surface protein is given to children in the vaccine, their immune systems make an immune response that provides protection against infection with the hepatitis B virus.
The first hepatitis B vaccine was made in the 1980s by taking blood from people infected with hepatitis B virus and separating or purifying the surface protein from the infectious virus. Because blood was used, there was a risk of contaminating the vaccine with other viruses that might be found in blood, such as HIV. Although contamination with HIV was a theoretical risk of the early, blood-derived hepatitis B vaccine, no one ever got HIV from the hepatitis B vaccine. That is because the blood used to make vaccine was submitted to a series of chemical treatments that inactivated any possible contaminating viruses. Today, there is no risk of contaminating the vaccine with other viruses because the surface protein is manufactured in the laboratory.
Who Is Allowed To Have The Vaccine
The vaccination is routinely available to children as part of the NHS 6-in-1 vaccine schedule from birth at 8, 12 and 16 weeks of age.
Although the risk of infection is low in the UK, the virus persists for longer in children than it does adults so to avoid complications such as scarring and even liver cancer theyve given the vaccine.
Other high risk groups of people offered the vaccine include:
close family or sexual partners of someone with hepatitis B male and female sex workers people with any form of chronic liver disease people who inject drugs or have a partner who injects drugs babies born to infected mothers people who change their sexual partners frequently men who have sex with men anyone who receives regular blood transfusions or blood products, and their carers people with chronic kidney disease people who work somewhere that places them at risk of contact with blood or body fluids, such as nurses, prison staff, doctors, dentists and laboratory staff people travelling to high-risk countries prisoners families adopting or fostering children from high-risk countries
Who Should Be Immunised Against Hepatitis A
Travellers to countries outside Western Europe, North America and Australasia should consider being immunised. The highest-risk areas include the Indian subcontinent , Africa, parts of the Far East , South and Central America and the Middle East. Vaccination is generally recommended for anyone over the age of 1 year. Your doctor or practice nurse can advise if you should be immunised against hepatitis A for your travel destination.
You can find out if immunisation against hepatitis A is recommended for any countries you are planning to visit from the NHS website Fitfortravel.
Close contacts of someone with hepatitis A. Occasional outbreaks of hepatitis A occur in the UK within families or in institutions. Close contacts of someone found to have hepatitis A infection may be offered vaccination. This only happens rarely. The most important measure for anybody with hepatitis A is good personal hygiene. In particular, washing hands after going to the toilet or before eating.
People with chronic liver disease. If you have a persistent liver disease it is suggested that you have the hepatitis A vaccine. Hepatitis A infection is not more common in those with chronic liver disease but, if infection does occur, it can cause a more serious illness.
People exposed to hepatitis A at work. For example, laboratory workers who are exposed to hepatitis A during their work and sewage workers are advised to be immunised against hepatitis A.
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A Look At Each Vaccine: Hepatitis B Vaccine
The hepatitis B vaccine is given to prevent the severe liver disease that can develop when children or adults are infected with hepatitis B virus. The hepatitis B vaccine is given as a series of three shots. The first dose is given within 24 hours of birth. The second dose is given one to two months after the first dose, and the third dose is given between 6 months and 18 months of age. The vaccine is also recommended for those up to 60 years of age who have not previously received it and those 60 years and older who are at increased risk or who simply want the protection afforded by vaccination.
Before Taking This Medicine
Hepatitis A and B vaccine will not protect you against infection with hepatitis C or E, or other viruses that affect the liver. It will also not protect you from hepatitis A or B if you are already infected with the virus, even if you do not yet show symptoms.
You should not receive this vaccine if you are allergic to yeast or neomycin, or if you have ever had a life-threatening allergic reaction to any vaccine containing hepatitis A or hepatitis B.
Tell your doctor if you have ever had:
an allergy to latex rubber or
a weak immune system .
You can still receive a vaccine if you have a minor cold. In the case of a more severe illness with a fever or any type of infection, wait until you get better before receiving this vaccine.
Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Immunisation Against Hepatitis B For People At Risk
In Victoria free hepatitis B vaccine is provided for people who are at increased risk, including:
- Men who have sex with men.
- People living with HIV.
- People living with hepatitis C.
- People no longer in a custodial setting who commenced, but did not complete, a free vaccine course while in custody.
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
- People born in priority hepatitis B endemic countries who arrived in Australia in the last 10 years priority countries include China, Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Thailand, South Korea, Myanmar , Indonesia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Cambodia.
- Vulnerable citizens people who have experienced hardship that prevented them from accessing the vaccine earlier. Vulnerable citizens are vaccinated based on an individual assessment by an immunisation provider.
Immunisation is also recommended, but not free, for people who are at increased risk including:
If you think you have been exposed to hepatitis B, see a doctor immediately. Your doctor can give you treatment that, in some instances, can greatly reduce your risk of infection with hepatitis B.
Remember that being immunised against hepatitis B does not protect you against HIV, hepatitis C or other diseases spread by blood or bodily fluids. It is important that you take precautions to make sure you are not exposed to these diseases.
Babies And Hepatitis B Vaccination
Pregnant women have a routine blood test for hepatitis B as part of their antenatal care.
Babies born to mothers infected with hepatitis B need to be given a dose of the hepatitis B vaccine within 24 hours of their birth, followed by further doses at 4, 8, 12 and 16 weeks of age, plus a final dose when they’re 1 year old.
Babies of mothers identified by the blood test as particularly infectious might also be given an injection of HBIG at birth on top of the hepatitis B vaccination to give them rapid protection against infection.
All babies born to mothers infected with hepatitis B should be tested at 1 year of age to check if they have become infected with the virus.
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Guidance On Reporting Adverse Events Following Immunization
Vaccine providers are asked to report, through local public health officials, any serious or unexpected adverse event temporally related to vaccination. An unexpected AEFI is an event that is not listed in available product information but may be due to the immunization, or a change in the frequency of a known AEFI.
Refer to Reporting Adverse Events Following Immunization in Canada and Adverse events following immunization in Part 2 for additional information about AEFI reporting.
Why Do You Need A Hepatitis B Shot
Hepatitis B is a viral infection that cant be transferred person-to-person unless you have contact with an infected persons bodily fluids. Annual infection rates of HBV are going down in the United States thanks to vaccines. So you might be wondering if you or your child needs a shot to protect against hepatitis B.
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How And When Do Doctors Give Vaccines
For the hepatitis A vaccine:
You should get two doses, given as shots, 6 months apart for complete protection. The virus in the vaccine is killed .
Children should get the first dose between 12 and 23 months of age. Children older than age 2 can get the first dose at their next doctorâs visit.
If you need the vaccine because of upcoming travel, get it at least 1 month before you go.
For the hepatitis B vaccine:
For long-lasting immunity, you need three to four doses, depending on which type of vaccine is used. You get them as shots.
Children should get their first dose at birth and complete the series by age 6 months. Usually, the baby would get a second dose at 1 month old and the third dose at 6 months.
Babies born to women who have hepatitis B need a shot of hep B antibodies, as well as their first hep B vaccine shot, when theyâre born. They will also need follow-up blood tests to make sure theyâre OK.
Catch-up vaccinations are recommended for children and teens who were never vaccinated or who did not get all three shots.
If you’re an adult who wants to be vaccinated, you should talk about it with your doctor or pharmacist. If you are considering both vaccines, ask your doctor about vaccines that combine hep A and B.
Us Infant Hepatitis B Vaccine Schedules
*Please note that the first dose should be given as soon as possible. Additional doses require minimum time intervals between doses in order for the vaccine to be effective.
3-Dose Vaccine Series for Infants
Since 1991, ALL medically stable infants with a birth weight of at least 2,000 g in the U.S. are recommended to receive the first dose of hepatitis B vaccine within 24 hours of birth. The additional 2 doses are given at 1 month and 6 months of age.
4-Dose Vaccine Combination Series for Infants
Combination vaccines, such as the pentavalent and hexavalent vaccines, include protection against 5 or 6 diseases, including hepatitis B. The first shot is usually given at 6 weeks of age, but in order to protect infants from hepatitis B beginning at birth, a monovalent or single dose of the hepatitis B vaccine is also recommended within 24 hours of birth. The hepatitis B vaccine series can then be completed with the pentavalent or hexavalent vaccine with the recommended schedule.
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Babies And Children Can Develop Chronic Hbv
You may be wondering why the recommendations for the HBV vaccine start on the first day of life.
Adults who contract HBV will likely not experience long-term complications from hepatitis B. But the same is not the case for babies. As many as of babies who contract an HBV infection at birth from their mothers become chronically infected with HBV.
Children between the ages of 1 and 5 who get an HBV infection have a 25 percent of people who become chronically infected during childhood will develop liver cancer or cirrhosis. Thats why pediatricians want children to have immunity from HBV from the earliest possible age. Many babies and children exposed to HBV receive post-exposure prophylaxis, which decreases chance of infection.
If youre pregnant, youll most likely have a blood test to see if youre positive for hepatitis B. This allows doctors to find out if theres a chance that you could pass on the virus. These tests are highly sensitive and have a good accuracy rate, but they arent perfect. Additionally, a pregnant person may become infected between the time of the test and giving birth. The first dose of the vaccine given at birth lowers the risk of a newborn baby contracting hepatitis B.
Who Should Get The Hbv Vaccine
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that all children and adults up to age 59 should receive the hepatitis B vaccine.
Infants should get their first hepatitis B vaccine within 24 hours of birth and complete their doses by age 6 to 18 months.
All unvaccinated children and adults through age 59 should receive the vaccine. Also, unvaccinated adults over the age 60 who are at risk of hepatitis B should get the vaccine.
Adults over age 60 who are not at risk of hepatitis B may also choose to get the shot.
Several types of the HBV vaccine are also safe to administer to pregnant women.
- people who have had more than one sex partner in the last 6 months
- men who have sex with men
- people seeking treatment for a sexually transmitted infection
- people whose partners or household members have hepatitis B
- people who inject drugs
- people who live or work in care facilities
- people who are on dialysis
- travelers to countries where hepatitis B is common
- people with chronic liver disease, HIV, or hepatitis C
- people who are in jail or prison
People who have diabetes should talk with a healthcare professional about their risk for contracting hepatitis B.
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For Adults And Children
This vaccine schedule involves three doses within 2 months, followed by a booster dose at 1 year.
The initial accelerated doses provide immediate protection from HBV, and the booster dose helps provide long-term protection.
Below is the accelerated vaccination schedule approved for both adults and children:
|2 months after the first dose||1 year after the first dose|
Is It Okay To Get An Extra Dose Of Hepatitis B Vaccine
Yes. Although extra doses of vaccine are not recommended, you can think of the extra dose as another chance for the immune system to see the hepatitis B virus. A vaccine is not the only time the immune system will see the virus or bacteria contained in it. People may be exposed to the virus or bacteria at school or the store or when visiting family or friends. An extra dose of vaccine is like one more exposure, except the difference is that the virus or bacteria in any vaccine has been made safe, so it wont make you ill.
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Hepatitis B Vaccine Side Effects
The hepatitis B vaccine is considered a very safe and effective vaccine. Its made with an inactivated virus, so most types of the vaccine are even safe for pregnant people.
The hepatitis B vaccine may cause some mild side effects. The most common symptom is redness, swelling, or soreness where the injection was given. Some people also experience headache or fever. These effects usually last a day or two .
Rarely, some people have a serious and potentially life threatening allergic reaction to the vaccine. Call 911 or get to a hospital immediately if you experience any of the following symptoms after vaccination:
Who May Need The Hepatitis B Vaccine
In general, you should consider having the hepatitis B vaccine, if you are travelling to an area of the world where you have a high risk of catching the disease. Check if there is a current risk of hepatitis B in the country you are travelling to.
In addition, the hepatitis B vaccine may be recommended to people who have a higher chance of getting ill. This includes:
people who inject illegal drugs
people who have unprotected sex
people who have contact with an infected person
babies born to mothers who have hepatitis B
But despite the fact that the majority is recommended to have the vaccine, the hepatitis B injection can cause problems for people who are allergic to any of the ingredients of the vaccine, pregnant and breastfeeding women, and people who are planning to have a baby.
It can also cause problems if you are currently unwell with a fever, if you are on dialysis for a kidney problem or if you are a carrier of hepatitis C or HIV.
If you belong to any of these groups or you are unsure whether you need the hepatitis b vaccine, you can book a free telephone consultation with one of our prescribing nurses for a personal assessment.
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Side Effects Of Hepatitis B Vaccines
Immunisations containing components to protect against hepatitis B are effective and safe, although all medication can have unwanted side effects.
Side effects from the vaccine are uncommon and usually mild, but may include:
- Localised pain, redness and swelling at the injection site.
- Low-grade temperature .
- In children being unsettled, irritable, tearful, generally unhappy, drowsy and tired.
- Occasionally, an injection-site lump that may last many weeks, but for which treatment is not needed.
Hepatitis Vaccine: What You Need To Know
Hepatitis is an inflammatory liver condition. There are five types of viral hepatitis: A, B, C,D, and E. Most cases are caused by a hepatitis virus. The condition can also be a result of excessive alcohol or drug use or a faulty inflammatory immune response that occurs when the immune system mistakes the liver as a threat to the body and begins to attack it.
There are two hepatitis vaccines that can help prevent hepatitis A and B infections. A third vaccine, developed for hepatitis E, is only permitted for use in China. This article discusses the types of hepatitis that can be prevented with a vaccine and what you need to know before getting one.
Verywell / Michela Buttignol
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