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.
Prevalence Of Chronic Hepatitis B
The prevalence of chronic hepatitis B virus infection varies between and within countries:58-61
- < 0.5% among Caucasians in the United States, northern Europe and Australia
- 15% in Mediterranean countries, parts of eastern Europe, Africa, and Central and South America
- > 10% in many sub-Saharan African, East and Southeast Asian, and Pacific island populations
Regions where 2% of the population is positive to hepatitis B surface antigen are considered to have moderate to high prevalence. In these regions, people mainly acquire the infection perinatally or in early childhood.55
Routine Administration Schedule For Hepatitis B Vaccine In Adults
- The dosing schedule is 0, 1 to 2 months, and 4 to 6 months.
- There is some flexibility in the schedule, but be sure to keep in mind the minimum intervals between doses:
- At least four weeks between doses #1 and #2
- At least eight weeks between doses #2 and #3
- At least 16 weeks between doses #1 and #3
- If your patient falls behind on the hepatitis B vaccination schedule , continue vaccinating from where your patient left off. The series does NOT need to be restarted.
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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.
What Should You Know About Pregnancy And Hepatitis B
A pregnant woman who has hepatitis B can pass the infection to her baby at delivery. This is true for both vaginal and cesarean deliveries.
You should ask your healthcare provider to test you for hepatitis B when you find out you are pregnant. However, while it is important for you and your healthcare provider to know if you do have hepatitis B, the condition should not affect the way that your pregnancy progresses.
If you do test positive, your provider may suggest that you contact another healthcare provider, a liver doctor, who is skilled in managing people with hepatitis B infections. You may have a high viral load and may need treatment during the last 3 months of your pregnancy. A viral load is the term for how much of the infection you have inside of you.
You can prevent your infant from getting hepatitis B infection by making sure that your baby gets the hepatitis B vaccine in the hours after they are born along with the hepatitis B immunoglobulin. These two shots are given in two different locations on the baby. They are the first shots needed.
Depending on the type of vaccine used, two or three more doses must be given, usually when the baby is 1 month old and then 6 months old, with the last by the time the baby is 1 year old. It is critical that all newborns get the hepatitis B vaccination, but even more important if you have hepatitis B yourself.
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The Hepatitis B Vaccine
The hepatitis B vaccine sometimes known by the trade name Recombivax HB is used to prevent this infection. The vaccine is provided in three doses.
The first dose can be taken on a date you choose. The second dose must be taken one month later. The third and final dose must be taken six months after the first dose.
Adolescents 11 to 15 years old may follow a two-dose regimen.
Immunizing Agents Available For Use In Canada
Hepatitis A-containing vaccines
- AVAXIMÂ® and AVAXIMÂ®-Pediatric , Sanofi Pasteur SA , Sanofi Pasteur Ltd.
- HAVRIXÂ®1440 and HAVRIXÂ®720 Junior , GlaxoSmithKline Inc.
- TWINRIXÂ® and TWINRIXÂ®Junior , GlaxoSmithKline Inc. Refer to Hepatitis B Vaccine in Part 4 for additional information about HAHB vaccine.
- VAQTAÂ® , Merck Canada Inc.
- ViVAXIMÂ® , Sanofi Pasteur Ltd.
- GamaSTANÂ® , Grifols Therapeutics LLC.
Standard human immunoglobulin is a sterile, concentrated solution for intramuscular injection containing 15% to 18% immunoglobulin. It is obtained from pooled human plasma from screened donors and contains mainly IgG with small amounts of IgA and IgM. For complete prescribing information, consult the product leaflet or information contained within the product monograph available through Health Canada’s Drug product database.
Refer to Contents in Immunizing Agents Available for Use in Canada in Part 1 for lists of vaccines and passive immunizing agents available for use in Canada and their contents.
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Complications Of Hepatitis B In Infants And Children
Mothers who are infected with hepatitis B can pass the virus to their children either through the womb or at the time of birth. Hepatitis B virus can also be spread through exposure of broken skin or mucous membranes to the blood or other body fluids of an infected person.
If newborn babies are quickly immunised with 2 vaccines, they can be protected from getting hepatitis B.
Many people who are infected with hepatitis B have no symptoms. Babies and children who are infected with hepatitis B are less likely than adults to have symptoms of infection, but are more likely to develop chronic hepatitis B.
A child who contracts chronic hepatitis B has an increased risk of developing liver disease and cancer later in life. A small proportion of adults who become infected with the hepatitis B virus develop a long-term hepatitis B infection.
Who Is Most Affected
In the United States, rates of new HBV infections are highest among adults aged 40-49 years, reflecting low hepatitis B vaccination coverage among adults at risk. The most common risk factor among people with new HBV infections is injecting drugs, related to the opioid crisis.
The highest rates of chronic hepatitis B infection in the United States occur among foreign-born individuals, especially people born in Asia, the Pacific Islands, and Africa. Approximately 70% of cases in the United States are among people who were born outside of the United States. CDC developed this map of the geographic distribution of hepatitis B around the world – PDF. Other groups who have higher rates of chronic HBV infection include people who inject drugs and men who have sex with men.
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Symptoms Of Hepatitis B
Many people with hepatitis B will not experience any symptoms and may fight off the virus without realising they had it.
If symptoms do develop, they tend to happen 2 or 3 months after exposure to the hepatitis B virus.
Symptoms of hepatitis B include:
- flu-like symptoms, including tiredness, a fever, and general aches and pains
- loss of appetite
- tummy pain
- yellowing of the skin and eyes
These symptoms will usually pass within 1 to 3 months , although occasionally the infection can last for 6 months or more .
Hepatitis A And B Vaccine Side Effects
Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction:hives difficulty breathing swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.
Keep track of any and all side effects you have after receiving this vaccine. When you receive a booster dose, you will need to tell the doctor if the previous shot caused any side effects.
You should not receive a booster vaccine if you had a life-threatening allergic reaction after the first shot.
Becoming infected with hepatitis is much more dangerous to your health than receiving this vaccine. However, like any medicine, this vaccine can cause side effects but the risk of serious side effects is extremely low.
You may feel faint after receiving this vaccine. Some people have had seizure like reactions after receiving this vaccine. Your doctor may want you to remain under observation during the first 15 minutes after the injection.
numbness, tingling, or burning pain
red or blistering skin rash with burning or tingly feeling
easy bruising or bleeding or
unexplained muscle pain, tenderness, or weakness.
Common side effects include:
This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report vaccine side effects to the US Department of Health and Human Services at 1-800-822-7967.
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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.
Who Should Not Receive Hepatitis A Vaccine
There are a very few situations where the hepatitis A vaccine is not recommended. They include:
- If you have an illness causing a high temperature. In this situation, it is best to postpone vaccination until after you have fully recovered from the illness.
- If you have had an allergic reaction to the vaccine or to any of its components in the past.
- One type of vaccine should not be given to anyone who is known to be allergic to eggs.
- Children under the age of 1 year. However, the risk of hepatitis A in children under the age of 1 year is very low. The hepatitis A vaccine is not licensed for this age group.
The vaccine may be given if you are pregnant or breastfeeding and vaccination against hepatitis A is thought to be necessary.
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What Should You Know About Hepatitis B Before You Travel
Hepatitis B is quite common in China and other Asian countries, where as many as 1 in 12 people have the virus, though many dont know it. Before traveling to those places, you should make sure youve been vaccinated against the virus.
In addition to getting the vaccine, you can take these additional precautions to reduce your risk of contracting the virus:
- Refrain from taking illegal drugs.
- Always use latex or polyurethane condoms during sex.
- Make sure new, sterile needles are used during all piercings, tattoos and acupuncture sessions.
- Avoid direct contact with blood and bodily fluids.
- Know the HBV status of all your sexual partners.
- Ask your doctor about possible vaccination before you travel to a place where hepatitis B is common.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Hepatitis B is a liver disease that can cause serious damage to your health. One reason that is dangerous is that it can easily go undetected for years while damaging your liver. Talk with your healthcare provider about being tested for hepatitis B if you have any reason to believe that you were not vaccinated or if you have engaged in risky behavior. If you do test positive, follow the directions from your healthcare provider so that you can live a longer, healthier and happier life.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 07/09/2020.
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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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.
Do The Benefits Of The Hepatitis B Vaccine Outweigh Its Risks
Every year in the United States about 2,000 people die following an overwhelming hepatitis B virus infection. In addition, every year about 22,000 people are infected with hepatitis B. Some of them will remain chronically infected, putting them at high risk of the long-term consequences of hepatitis B virus infection: cirrhosis and liver cancer. In fact, with the exception of influenza virus, hepatitis B virus causes more severe disease and death in the United States than any other vaccine-preventable disease. On the other hand, the hepatitis B vaccine is an extremely rare cause of a severe allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. To date, no one has died from this reaction, but it is theoretically possible that this could occur.
Because hepatitis B virus is a common cause of severe disease and death in the United States, and because the hepatitis B vaccine does not cause permanent damage or death, the benefits of the hepatitis B vaccine clearly outweigh its risks.
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What Is Hepatitis B Virus
Hepatitis B virus attacks the liver. Hepatitis B virus infections are known as the “silent epidemic” because many infected people don’t experience symptoms until decades later when they develop hepatitis , cirrhosis , or cancer of the liver . Every year in the United States about 22,000 new hepatitis B infections occur and about 2,000 people die from their infections.
How To Get Vaccinated Against Hepatitis B
All babies in the UK born on or after 1 August 2017 are given 3 doses of hepatitis B-containing vaccine as part of the NHS routine vaccination schedule. These doses are given at 8, 12 and 16 weeks of age.
Babies at high risk of developing hepatitis B infection from infected mothers are given additional doses of the hepatitis B vaccine at birth, 4 weeks and 1 year of age.
If you think you’re at risk and need the hepatitis B vaccine, ask your GP to vaccinate you, or visit any sexual health or genitourinary medicine clinic.
If your GP or nurse is unable to offer you the hepatitis B vaccine because of a temporary shortage in supply, you may need to wait longer for the vaccine. For more information, read What to do if you have to wait for a dose of hepatitis B vaccine .
If your job places you at risk of hepatitis B infection, it’s your employer’s responsibility to arrange vaccination for you, rather than your GP. Contact your occupational health department.
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Neonatal Hepatitis B Screening And Immunisation
Babies born to mothers infected with hepatitis B have a high risk of acquiring infection, which can be prevented by vaccination at birth. Therefore all women in the UK are screened during each pregnancy for hepatitis B. If a mother not previously booked for antenatal care presents in labour, she should have urgent hepatitis B screening, so that if needed the vaccine can be given to the infant within 24 hours of birth. Those women who are HbeAg-positive are particularly infectious.