Liver Anatomy And Function
Main Function of the Liver
The liver is an essential organ that has many functions in the body. The liver plays an important role in detoxifying the body by converting ammonia, a byproduct of metabolism in the body, into urea that is excreted in the urine by the kidneys. The liver also breaks down medications and drugs, including alcohol, and is responsible for breaking down insulin and other hormones in the body. The liver also stores vitamins and chemicals that the body requires as building blocks.
Many different disease processes can occur in the liver, including infections such as hepatitis, cirrhosis , cancers, and damage by medications or toxins.
Symptoms of liver disease can include:
Who Should Not Get The Hepatitis B Vaccine
Generally seen as a safe vaccine, there are some circumstances in which doctors advise against receiving the HBV vaccine. You shouldnt have the hepatitis B vaccine if:
- youve had a serious allergic reaction to a previous dose of the hepatitis B vaccine
- you have a history of hypersensitivity to yeast or to any other vaccine components
- youre experiencing a moderate or severe acute illness
If youre currently experiencing an illness, you should postpone receiving the vaccine until your condition has improved.
Us Children And Adult 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 Children and Adults
The hepatitis B vaccine is an injection that is generally given in the arm as a three-dose series on a 0, 1, and 6-month schedule. Alternative schedules may be considered, noting that a third dose at 6 months, meeting minimum intervals between doses, is needed for maximum, long-term protection. Completing the hepatitis B vaccine series, preferably beginning at birth, will ensure protection against hepatitis B, hepatitis delta and lower the lifetime risk of liver cancer. Greater than 90% of babies and up to 50% of young children who are not vaccinated and are infected with hepatitis B will have lifelong infection, which makes the birth dose essential to their protection.
There are four, 3-dose vaccine brands approved in the U.S.
- PreHevbrio PreHevbrio is only approved for adults age 18 and over.
2-Dose Vaccine Series
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Hepatitis B Vaccine Side Effects
As with any medication, the hepatitis B vaccine may cause some side effects. Most people dont experience any unwanted effects. The most common symptom is a sore arm from the injection site.
When receiving the vaccination, youll likely receive information or a pamphlet regarding the side effects that you might expect, and others that warrant medical attention.
Mild side effects usually last only . Mild side effects of the vaccine include:
- redness, swelling, or itching at the injection site
- a purple spot or lump at the injection site
Concurrent Administration Of Vaccines
HB-containing vaccines may be administered concomitantly with other vaccines or with HBIg. Different injection sites and separate needles and syringes must be used for concurrent parenteral injections.
Refer to Timing of Vaccine Administration in Part 1 for additional information about concurrent administration of vaccines.
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What Happens If I Miss A Dose
Contact your doctor if you miss a booster dose or if you get behind schedule. The next dose should be given as soon as possible. There is no need to start over.
Be sure you receive all recommended doses of this vaccine. You may not be fully protected against disease if you do not receive the full series.
Who Should Get Hepatitis Vaccinations
Since the vaccines were first developed, the hepatitis A and B vaccines have become part of the regular childhood immunization schedule. They are not considered a routine adult immunization.
“When we’re talking about adults, I would say yes, get the vaccine if they fit into one of these risk factors” says Poland. “If they don’t fit into the risk factors, their risk is so low that there’s no compelling reason to do it.”
People at risk for hepatitis A include:
- Anyone traveling to or working in areas where hepatitis A is more widespread.
- People whose work puts them in potential contact with hepatitis A, such as those who work with the hepatitis A virus in research labs
- People who are treated with clotting-factor concentrates
- People who have chronic liver disease
- People who use recreational drugs, injected or not
- Men who have sex with men
People at risk for hepatitis B include:
- Anyone traveling to or working in areas where hepatitis B is more widespread.
- Health care workers and other people whose job exposes them to human blood
- People with HIV infection, end-stage kidney disease, or chronic liver disease
- People who live with someone with hepatitis B
- People who inject street drugs
- Sexually active people who have had more than one partner
- Anyone who has had an STD
- Men who have sex with men
- Sex partners of people with hepatitis B
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What If There Is A Serious Problem
An allergic reaction could occur after the vaccinated person leaves the clinic. If you see signs of a severe allergic reaction , call 9-1-1 and get the person to the nearest hospital.
For other signs that concern you, call your health care provider.
Adverse reactions should be reported to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System . Your health care provider will usually file this report, or you can do it yourself. Visit the VAERS website at or call . VAERS is only for reporting reactions, and VAERS staff members do not give medical advice.
Hepatitis B Vaccination In Pregnancy
Hepatitis B infection in pregnant women may result in severe disease for the mother and chronic infection for the baby.
This is why the hepatitis B vaccine is recommended for pregnant women who are in a high-risk category.
There’s no evidence of any risk from vaccinating pregnant or breastfeeding women against hepatitis B.
And, as it’s an inactivated vaccine, the risk to the unborn baby is likely to be negligible .
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Does The Hepatitis B Vaccine Have Side Effects
Some children will develop pain or soreness in the local area of the shot, and low-grade fever.
There is one extremely rare, but serious, side effect. About 1 out of every 600,000 doses of the hepatitis B vaccine will cause a severe allergic reaction, called anaphylaxis, with symptoms including swelling of the mouth, difficulty breathing, low blood pressure or shock. Anaphylaxis usually occurs within 15 minutes of receiving the vaccine. Although anaphylaxis can be treated, it is quite frightening. People should remain at the doctors office for about 15 minutes after getting the vaccine.
Although the hepatitis B vaccine is made in yeast cells, no one has ever been shown to be allergic to the yeast proteins contained in the hepatitis B vaccine .
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.
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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 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.
Safety Of Hepatitis Vaccines
Hepatitis vaccines have been given to millions of people all across the world without any evidence of serious side effects. “They’re very safe, and they’re extremely effective,” says Poland.
If you are not sure whether you should have hepatitis vaccines, talk with your doctor about your specific concerns.
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Vaccines For Hepatitis A And B
Our immune system battles foreign invaders every day, such as when we get a cold virus. When this happens, we develop immunity to that specific virus. This means that our body will fight off the virus if it is ever exposed to it again.
The same protection happens with vaccines. However, the benefit of a vaccination is that you don’t have to go through being sick to enable your body to fight off disease.
Gregory Poland, MD, director of the Mayo Clinic’s Vaccine Research Group, explains that hepatitis vaccinations contain a small amount of the inactive virus. When you get a dose of the vaccine, he says, your immune cells respond by developing immunity against the virus. This immunity lasts over a long period of time.
“So if I get these two doses of hepatitis A vaccine, and then I get exposed 30 years from now, my body will remember that immunity to the vaccine and rapidly start producing antibodies again,” says Poland.
Due to the way hepatitis vaccinations are developed, it is impossible to contract the virus from the vaccine itself, according to Poland.
The hepatitis A vaccine is usually given in two shots and the hepatitis B vaccine is administered as a series of three shots. The most common side effects are redness, pain, and tenderness where the shots are given.
To get long-term protection from these viruses, it’s important to receive all the shots as scheduled. However, if you received one shot and never went back for the others, it’s not too late to catch up.
Persons With Inadequate Immunization Records
Evidence of long term protection against HB has only been demonstrated in individuals who have been vaccinated according to a recommended immunization schedule. Independent of their anti-HBs titres, children and adults lacking adequate documentation of immunization should be considered susceptible and started on an immunization schedule appropriate for their age and risk factors. Refer to Immunization of Persons with Inadequate Immunization Records in Part 3 for additional information.
Should You Get The Hepatitis B Vaccine
You may need the vaccination against hepatitis B if you have not previously been vaccinated against hepatitis B AND you have any of the following reasons for receiving the vaccination:
- Chronic hepatitis C
- Liver cirrhosis or liver fibrosis
- Other chronic liver disease
- Awaiting or received liver transplant
- Findings consistent with liver disease
- HIV infection
- Use of injection drugs currently or in the past
- Have a sex partner who has hepatitis B
- Have had more than one sex partner in the past 6 months
- Men who have sex with men
- Travel to countries with high or intermediate rates of hepatitis B infection
- Reside or work in a prison or correctional facility
- People with end-stage renal disease including patients receiving dialysis
- People who are seeking evaluation or treatment for a sexually transmitted disease
- Work in a high-risk profession with reasonable anticipation of risk of exposure to blood or body fluids, such as:
- Health care centers
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.
Hepatitis B Vaccine Is Also Recommended For The Following People:
- People whose sex partners have hepatitis B
- Sexually active persons who are not in a long-term monogamous relationship
- People seeking evaluation or treatment for a sexually transmitted disease
- Victims of sexual assault or abuse
- Men who have sexual contact with other men
- People who share needles, syringes, or other drug injection equipment
- People who have household contact with someone infected with the hepatitis B virus
- Healthcare and public safety workers at risk for exposure to blood or body fluids
- Residents and staff of facilities for developmentally disabled persons
- People living in jail or prison
- Travelers to regions with increased rates of hepatitis B
- People with chronic liver disease, kidney disease on dialysis, HIV infection, infection with hepatitis C, or diabetes
Hepatitis B vaccine may be given as a stand-alone vaccine, or as part of a combination vaccine .
Hepatitis B vaccine may be given at the same time as other vaccines.
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.
Before receiving this vaccine, tell the doctor if you have:
an allergy to latex rubber or
a weak immune system caused by disease, bone marrow transplant, or by using certain medicines or receiving cancer treatments.
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.
FDA pregnancy category C. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant. It is not known whether hepatitis A and B vaccine will harm an unborn baby. However, not vaccinating the mother could be harmful to the baby if the mother becomes infected with a disease that this vaccine could prevent. Your doctor will decide whether you should receive this vaccine, especially if you have a high risk of infection with hepatitis.
If you are pregnant, your name may be listed on a pregnancy registry. This is to track the outcome of the pregnancy and to evaluate any effects of this vaccine on the baby.
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I Am A Healthcare Worker Who Did Not Develop Hepatitis B Antibodies After Immunization What Should I Do
Not everyone responds to the hepatitis B vaccine. In fact, in a group of adults younger than 40 years of age who have received two doses of the vaccine only 75 of 100 will be protected. Following the third dose, this number will increase to 90 of 100. However, people older than 40 years of age will be less likely to respond to the vaccine with increasing age.
Even if people do not respond to three doses, it does not mean that they are at high risk for hepatitis B. Because hepatitis B is transmitted primarily through blood and body fluids, using safety precautions while working will help decrease the chance of exposure to the disease. It is also possible that the immune response was not great enough to be measured by the laboratory test, but would still provide some level of protection upon exposure to hepatitis B. The CDC recommends getting the three-dose series again if an immune response is not generated following the first series.
About 5-10 of every 100 children and adults younger than 40 years of age do not respond to the third dose of the hepatitis B vaccine. Some of these people will be recommended to get the series of three doses again. About 5 of 100 people will still not respond after six doses. If these people are determined not to have chronic hepatitis B, they will be reliant on taking precautions to reduce the chance of exposure and relying on those around them for protection. In other words, these people will be reliant on herd immunity.
Hepatitis A And B: Diseases Of The Liver
Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver, most often caused by a viral infection. There are three common types of hepatitis caused by viruses: hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C. Vaccines have been developed that protect people from contracting hepatitis A and B. There is no vaccine for hepatitis C.
Over the last 20 years, there has been a 90% decrease in cases of hepatitis A and an 80% decrease in hepatitis B cases in the U.S. Health experts believe that immunization efforts have led to this drop in rates of infection.
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