Primary Hepatitis B Vaccinations For Children In The Uk
In the UK, children born after August 2017 are eligible to be given hepatitis B vaccines when they are young.
This consists of three doses of a hepatitis B vaccine. These doses are given at eight, 12 and 16 weeks of age. Babies at high risk of developing the hepatitis B infection from infected mothers are given additional doses of the hepatitis B vaccine at birth, four weeks and one year of age.
However, if your child was born before this time, they are likely unvaccinated. If you are unsure which vaccinations your child has received, you should consult your doctor.
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.
Get The Shot And Stay Informed
The hepatitis A & B virus is silent but violent. The virus is 50 to 100 times more contagious than HIV and can survive outside the body for at least seven days, making it much more infectious then most infectious diseases.
Nobody is immune to the first infection, and once contracted, it can lead to chronic illness and, in extreme cases, even death.
We hope this article answered the question, “How long does Twinrix last?” Also, that it has given you further insight into hepatitis A and B.
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Who Shouldnt Get The Vaccine
It is worth noting that individuals who had serious allergic reactions to the first dose of the vaccine should not proceed with the second and third. Also, those hypersensitive to yeast shouldnt take the vaccine. People suffering from severe acute illnesses should wait until their condition is improved.
Who Should Receive Hepatitis B Vaccination
- All newborns before hospital discharge. Infants born to hepatitis B-positive women need hepatitis B vaccine and HBIG within 12 hours of birth.
- All children and adolescents not previously vaccinated.
- Children born in the U.S. to individuals born in a country with high hepatitis B endemicity.
- All individuals at risk of hepatitis B infection:
- Sex partners of hepatitis B-positive persons
- Sexually active persons who are not in a long-term, mutually monogamous relationship
- Persons seeking evaluation or treatment for a sexually-transmitted disease
- Men who have sex with men
- Persons who inject drugs
- Household contacts of hepatitis B-positive persons
- Persons born in countries where hepatitis B infection is endemic should be tested and vaccinated if susceptible
- International travelers to regions with high or intermediate rates of endemic hepatitis B infection
- Health care and public safety workers that may be exposed to blood or blood-contaminated body fluids
- Residents and staff of facilities for developmentally disabled persons, corrections facilities, and other facilities that serve adults at risk for hepatitis B infection
- Persons with end-stage renal disease, including pre-dialysis, hemodialysis, peritoneal dialysis, and home dialysis patients
- Persons with chronic liver disease
- Persons to age 60 years with diabetes
- Persons with HIV infection
- All other persons seeking protection from hepatitis B infection.
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Why Is The Hepatitis B Vaccine Important
Because of the vaccine, cases of acute hepatitis B have decreased by a lot in the United States. But chronic hepatitis B is still common up to 2.2 million people in the United States have it. Chronic hepatitis B can lead to serious liver problems and even death.
Getting vaccinated is the best way to prevent hepatitis B.
Hepatitis B is a liver disease caused by a virus. There are 2 types of hepatitis B:
- Acute hepatitis B
- Chronic hepatitis B
Many children who get acute hepatitis B dont have any symptoms, but most adults do. Symptoms may include:
- Dark pee or clay-colored poop
- Pain in the muscles, joints, and stomach
Acute hepatitis B symptoms usually last a few weeks but they can last as long as 6 months.
If the acute hepatitis B infection does not go away after 6 months, its considered a chronic hepatitis B infection. Most people who have chronic hepatitis B dont have symptoms at first. But chronic hepatitis B is a lifelong illness that can lead to serious and possibly deadly liver problems, like:
- Has sex with a person who has hepatitis B
- Touches the blood or open sores of a person who has hepatitis B
All children and most adults need to get the hepatitis B vaccine.
Infants and children
All children need to get the hepatitis B vaccine as part of their routine vaccine schedule.
Children need 3 doses of the vaccine at the following ages:
- Birth for the first dose
- 1 through 2 months for the second dose
- 6 through 18 months for the third dose
What To Think About
If you are exposed to HBV before you have received all three shots in the vaccination series, a dose of hepatitis B immune globulin usually will prevent infection until the vaccine takes effect.
If you have already had hepatitis B and have developed protective antibodies to the virus, you do not need the vaccine because you have lifetime protection against the infection. If you are not sure whether you have had hepatitis B, you can be tested, or you can be vaccinated without testing. The vaccine is not harmful for you if you are already immune.
If you have chronic HBV infection, the vaccine will be ineffective, although it is not harmful.
The vaccine is safe for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
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Persons With Chronic Diseases
Refer to Immunization of Persons with Chronic Diseases in Part 3 for additional general information about vaccination of people with chronic diseases.
Chronic renal disease and patients on dialysis
People with chronic renal disease may respond sub-optimally to HB vaccine and experience more rapid decline of anti-HBs titres, and are therefore recommended immunization with a higher vaccine dose. Individuals undergoing chronic dialysis are also at increased risk for HB infection. In people with chronic renal disease anti-HBs titre should be evaluated annually and booster doses using a higher vaccine dose should be given as necessary.
People with conditions such as autism spectrum disorders or demyelinating disorders should receive all routinely recommended immunizations, including HB-containing vaccine.
Chronic liver disease
HB immunization is recommended for non-immune persons with chronic liver disease, including those infected with hepatitis C, because they are at risk of more severe disease if infection occurs. Vaccination should be completed early in the course of the disease, as the immune response to vaccine is suboptimal in advanced liver disease. Post-immunization serologic testing may be used to confirm vaccine response.
Non-malignant hematologic disorders
Persons with bleeding disorders and other people receiving repeated infusions of blood or blood products are considered to be at higher risk of contracting HB and should be offered HB vaccine.
Can You Get A Vaccine To Prevent Hepatitis C
Vaccines are a way to expose your body to a virus before you encounter the live virus naturally. A vaccine contains traces of a dead virus, so your body can form a memory of the virus. Your body then remembers how to attack and destroy the virus if you ever come into contact with it.
There isnt a vaccine for hepatitis C at this time. Hepatitis C has many different subtypes and strains, so creating a vaccine that protects against all the different types is complicated. Vaccines are available for both hepatitis A and B, but one for hepatitis C hasnt been approved.
If you have hepatitis C, your doctor may suggest you get the vaccine for both hepatitis A and B. These two types of viruses cause liver damage, so the added protection is a smart idea.
Recommended Reading: How To Get Hepatitis A Virus
Also Check: Hepatitis B And C Test Price
What Hepatitis B Immunisation Involves
Full protection involves having 3 injections of the hepatitis B vaccine at the recommended intervals.
Babies born to mothers with hepatitis B infection will be given 6 doses of hepatitis B-containing vaccine to ensure long-lasting protection.
If you’re a healthcare worker or you have kidney failure, you’ll have a follow-up appointment to see if you have responded to the vaccine.
If you have been vaccinated by your employer’s occupational health service, you can request a blood test to see if you have responded to the vaccine.
Important Information About Vaccine And Hepatitis B Immunoglobulin Shot Administration
Where available, the hepatitis B birth-dose and HBIG should be administered within 24 hours of birth in order to prevent the transmission of hepatitis B from mother to child. It is very important that the shots be given in opposite limbs, to ensure the highest effectiveness. Please see chart above for more information.
Read Also: How Can A Person Get Hepatitis C
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.
How Do You Catch Hepatitis B Virus
Blood from a person infected with hepatitis B virus is heavily contaminated with the virus. As a result, contact with blood is the most likely way to catch hepatitis B. Even casual contact with the blood of someone who is infected can cause infection.
Healthcare workers are at high risk of catching the disease, as are intravenous drug users and newborns of mothers infected with the virus. Sexual contact can also expose people to infection. The virus is also present in low levels in saliva.
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How Is Hepatitis B Diagnosed
A diagnosis of hepatitis B infection is made using blood tests.
Because many people do not have symptoms when they get hepatitis B, they may never be diagnosed. Thats why screening for hepatitis B is recommended in a number of people including:
- people at higher risk
If you think you have been exposed to infected blood or body fluids, see a doctor as soon as possible. There are treatments that can reduce your risk of developing the infection, if given shortly after exposure.
Side Effects Of The Hepatitis B Vaccine
Like all medicines and vaccines, the hepatitis B injection can cause side effects, but most people do not experience any at all.
If you do experience hepatitis B vaccine side effects, they are very unlikely to be serious.
One in ten people experience common hepatitis B vaccine side effects. These include:
pins and needles
If you experience dizziness or drowsiness after the hepatitis B vaccine, you should not drive or operate heavy machinery until you feel better.
If your hepatitis B vaccine side effects do not improve, or they become worse, you should talk to your doctor.
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General Information About Vaccination Outside The Us
In developing countries, the pentavalent vaccine, a combination 5-in-one vaccine that protects against five diseases, diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, Hib and hepatitis B, may be given to babies more than 6 weeks of age, and can be given up to 1 year of age. The first dose is given at 6 weeks, and the second and third doses are given at 10 and 14 weeks of age. The pentavalent vaccine may be made available free of charge with the support of GAVI, the vaccine alliance. Check the GAVI country hub to see the resources and immunizations that may be available:
For babies born to mothers with hepatitis B, waiting for the first dose of the pentavalent vaccine is too late and will NOT protect the baby from vertical or horizontal transmission of hepatitis B. Babies born to a mother with hepatitis B have a greater than 90% chance of developing chronic hepatitis B if they are not properly treated at birth.
WHO recommends the hepatitis B vaccine within 24 hours of birth for ALL babies. Plan ahead and inquire about the availability and cost of the monovalent , birth dose of the vaccine, as it is not a GAVI provided immunization. This is particularly important to women who are positive for hepatitis B.
If you are unsure of your hepatitis B status, please be sure your doctor tests you for hepatitis B!
*WHO does not recommend a birth dose of HBIG, which may not be available in all countries. Talk to your doctor if you have questions.
Page updated September 2022.
What Occupations Have Increased Risk Of Hepatitis B
In general, occupational groups with increased risk include:
- Health-care workers repeatedly exposed to blood or blood products or those who are at risk of needlestick injury.
- Pathologists, laboratory personnel, or embalmers.
- Dentists, dental assistants, and dental hygienists.
- Certain staff members of institutions for the developmentally handicapped.
- Staff of institutions where workers may be exposed to aggressive, biting residents.
Travellers to regions with intermediate or high rates of endemic HBV infection may also consider being vaccinated.
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Why Should I Vaccinate My Newborn Child If I Know That I Am Not Infected With Hepatitis B Virus
Before the hepatitis B vaccine, every year in the United States about 18,000 children were infected with hepatitis B virus by the time they were 10 years old. This statistic is especially important because people are much more likely to develop liver cancer or cirrhosis if they are infected early in life, rather than later in life .
About 9,000 of the 18,000 children infected in the first 10 years of life caught the virus from their mother during birth. However, many young children didn’t catch the disease from their mother. They caught it from either another family member or someone else who came in contact with the child. Because hepatitis B can be transmitted by relatively casual contact with items contaminated with the blood of an infected person, and because many people who are infected with hepatitis B virus don’t know that they have it, it is virtually impossible to be “careful enough” to avoid this infection.
For these reasons, all young children are recommended to receive the hepatitis B vaccine. The best time to receive the first dose is right after birth. This will ensure that the child will be protected as early as possible from catching hepatitis B from people who dont know that they are infected with the virus.
Listen to Dr. Offit explain why newborns get the hepatitis B vaccine by watching this short video, part of the series Talking About Vaccines with Dr. Paul Offit.
I Received My Vaccine Years Ago
If it has been years since you have been vaccinated, you may need or may request a hepatitis B surface antibody titer blood test to confirm that you are still protected. A person is considered protected if they have a positive anti-HBs or HBsAb test result greater than 10 mIU/mL. Sometimes these test results are under 10 and there is concern whether these low levels will still provide protection against hepatitis B. Anti-HBs or HBsAb test results can decrease over time, but an individual can still be protected even if the test results are less than 10 mIU/mL.
If your test results are low, your doctor may recommend a booster shot or a repeat of the series. If you confirm you completed the vaccine series, you can get a booster dose of the vaccine. Your surface antibody level will be tested again 1 or 2 months after the booster. If the blood test result is greater than 10 mIU/mL, then you are protected and will not require an additional booster shot in the future. If a booster shot does not result in a level greater than 10, then complete the remaining two-doses of the vaccine series and recheck the levels again after 1-2 months. Retain a copy of the anti-HBs titer test as proof of protection.
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