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Hepatitis B Disease and Vaccine

Quick Facts

Hepatitis B

  • Hepatitis B (HBV) is a viral infection that infects the liver and requires direct contact with infected blood or other body fluids for transmission. Most acute hepatitis B infections do not persist but if the infection lasts 6 months or longer, it could lead to chronic liver disease, liver cancer and death.
  • Hepatitis B is not common in childhood in the U.S. and is not highly contagious in the same way that common childhood diseases like pertussis and chicken pox are contagious. In the U.S., hepatitis B is primarily an adult disease (ages 20-50) but the virus also can be transmitted from an infected mother to her newborn baby. Most people do not experience any symptoms during acute infection but may have symptoms, such as yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice), dark urine, extreme fatigue, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. 2,4 
  • While hepatitis B was not prevalent in the U.S. before childhood vaccination campaigns were introduced in 1991, historically it has been endemic in Asia and Africa. Worldwide, hepatitis B is the cause of up to 80 percent of liver cancer and an estimated 600,000 people die each year from acute or chronic hepatitis B around the world. 2,3 
  • In the U.S., individuals at highest risk for hepatitis B infection are those, who engage in risky behaviors such as illegal IV drug abuse, prostitution, men who have sex with men, heterosexuals with multiple sexual partners and people who have received blood transfusions using infected blood. Healthcare workers, who are exposed to infected blood or body fluids of patients through contact with needles or medical devices used on patients, or when breaches in proper hygiene and/or infection control practices occur, are at high risk for becoming infected with hepatitis B. In 2010, there were 3,374 acute cases of hepatitis B reported in the U.S.  5,6,7,8  

Hepatitis B Vaccine 

  • There are five recombinant hepatitis B vaccines approved by the FDA for use in the U.S.: Engerix-B; Recombivax HB; Twinrix (combined with hepatitis A); Comvax (combined with Haemophilus b Conjugate and meningococcal protein conjugate); and Pediarix (combined with diphtheria and tetanus toxoids, acellular pertussis adsorbed, and inactivated poliovirus). The recombinant hepatitis B vaccine is created through genetic engineering of DNA by inserting a segment of the viral gene in a yeast cell. 1,10 
  • The CDC recommends that all infants be vaccinated with three doses of hepatitis B vaccine beginning at 12 hours of age with the last dose given before 18 months of age to prevent transmission by an infected mother to her newborn. The CDC also recommends hepatitis B vaccination for adults with diabetes; household and sexual contacts of people with chronic hepatitis B infection; healthcare workers; people at increased risk for hepatitis B virus exposure due to occupational, behavioral, or medical factors; and international travelers to countries with high or intermediate hepatitis B infection rates.10,11,12,15 
  • The primary reason that the CDC recommended hepatitis B vaccination for all newborns in the United States in 1991 is because public health officials and doctors could not persuade adults in high risk groups (primarily IV drug abusers and persons with multiple sexual partners) to get the vaccine. 9,16,17 
  • By 2009, about 41.9 percent of U.S. adults at risk for hepatitis B infection had received the vaccine and 64.7 percent of U.S. health care workers had been vaccinated but the incidence of hepatitis B infection among adults had changed little since the period after the vaccine was made available for high risk adults between 1988-1994.11,14 
  • As of September 1, 2015, there had been 710 claims filed in the federal Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) for injuries and deaths following Hepatitis B vaccination, including 54 deaths and 656 serious injuries.
  • Using the MedAlerts search engine, as of September 1, 2015 there had been 11,052 serious adverse events reported to the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS) in connection with Hepatitis B containing vaccines since 1990. Over 38% of those serious Hepatitis B vaccine-related adverse events occurring in children under 3 years old. Of these Hepatitis B-vaccine related adverse event reports to VAERS 1,086 were deaths, with 75% of the deaths occurring in children under three years of age.

Food & Drug Administration (FDA)

Centers for Disease Control (CDC)

Vaccine Reaction Symptoms & Ingredients

Our Ask 8, If You Vaccinate webpage contains vaccine reaction symptoms and more. Calculate vaccine ingredients for potential toxic exposures & print a vaccination plan with the Vaccine Ingredients Calculator.

Search for Vaccine Reactions

NVIC hosts MedAlerts, a powerful VAERS database search engine. MedAlerts examines symptoms, reactions, vaccines, dates, places, and more.

Reporting a Vaccine Reaction

Since 1982, the NVIC has operated a Vaccine Reaction Registry, which has served as a watchdog on VAERS. Reporting vaccine reactions to VAERS is the law. If your doctor will not report a reaction, you have the right to report a suspected vaccine reaction to VAERS.

IMPORTANT NOTE: NVIC encourages you to become fully informed about Hepatitis B and the Hepatitis B vaccine by reading all sections in the Table of Contents , which contain many links and resources such as the manufacturer product information inserts, and to speak with one or more trusted health care professionals before making a vaccination decision for yourself or your child. This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice.

Hepatitis B: Discrimination and Vaccine Damage

by Barbara Loe Fisher, March 2008


A news report out of China, where about 125 million people are hepatitis B carriers, reveals that any child or adult found to be hepatitis B positive faces severe discrimination and societal sanctions while news reports out of Japan reveal that mandatory hepatitis B vaccination programs have transmitted hepatitis B infection. In France, families of hepatitis B vaccine victims are suing drug giants GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and Sanofi Pasteur for aggravated deceit and involuntary homicide for the crippling and killing of children and adults, who were required to take the vaccine. The families have been barred from suing two former French government health officials who initiated and promoted the mandatory hepatitis B vaccination program.

For more than 20 years, the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC) has been receiving reports that adults,children and infants are suffering serious reactions to hepatitis B vaccine. Hepatitis B vaccine reaction reports began to come in to NVIC's Vaccine Reaction Registry in the late 1980's from adult health care workers, who reported extreme fatigue, muscle weakness, joint pain, loss of vision, memory loss, heart problems, and development of multiple sclerosis after hepatitis B vaccination.

When the CDC recommended in 1991 that all healthy newborns at 12 hours of age be given hepatitis B vaccine in the newborn nursery, reports of infants dying after hepatitis B vaccination started coming in and continued all through the 90's. When states started mandating the vaccine for all school children in the late 1990's, parents began reporting that their bright, healthy, honor roll students and star athletes were becoming brain damaged, bed ridden and unable to attend school.

In 1999, NVIC published a report that in the U.S. there were more reported cases of hepatitis B vaccine reactions than reported cases of hepatitis B disease in children under 14 years old, an infection that is primarily transmitted in the U.S. among adult high risk groups such as IV drug users and those with multiple sexual partners.

The U.S., Europe and Canada have had historically low rates of hepatitis B disease. In 1990, one year before the CDC told doctors to give every American child three doses of hepatitis B vaccine, there were 21,102 cases of hepatitis B reported in the U.S. out of more than 300 million Americans. In 2005, there were 5,119 hepatitis B cases reported (MMWR, March 30, 2007

During the past century, medical doctors in positions of power inside and outside of governments around the world have developed an irrational fear of infectious microorganisms, such as hepatitis B virus, and have instilled that fear in the people they counsel. When irrational fear overtakes rational thought, the first casualty is usually the truth; the second is freedom.

The people in China, who are facing cruel discrimination for testing positive for hepatitis B infection, are being persecuted because of myths and misinformation perpetuated by doctors pushing mass use of hepatitis B vaccine and pharmaceutical drugs. The hype that surrounded CDC-inspired mandatory hepatitis B vaccination laws in the late 1990's had doctors declaring to the media that hepatitis B is highly contagious and could be transmitted in school settings, even though they knew transmission was impossible unless there was a direct exchange of blood. When questioned in a public hearing in 1997, CDC official Eric Mast, M.D. admitted "although the hepatitis B virus is present in moderate concentrations in saliva, it's not transmitted commonly by casual contact."

Infants who contract hepatitis B, either from their infected mother or infected blood transfusions, are at highest risk for chronic infection. But for the majority of healthy teenagers and adults, who come down with hepatitis B infection, symptoms include nausea, vomiting, low grade fever, pain and swelling in the joints, headache, and cough for two weeks before the onset of jaundice and enlargement/tenderness of the liver that lasts for three to four weeks. Fatigue can last up to a year but "most patients do not require hospital care" and "95 percent of patients have a favorable course and recover completely" with the case fatality ratio being "very low (approximately 0.1 percent)" according to Harrison's Principles of Medicine (11th Edition).

Those who recover completely from hepatitis B infection acquire life-long immunity. One medical textbook (Robbins Pathologic Textbook of Disease) points out that among those who do not recover completely from hepatitis B infection, fewer than 5 percent become chronic carrriers of the virus, with just one quarter of these in danger of developing life threatening disease later in life. 

The tragic consequences of doctors promoting mass hysteria about infectious diseases, like hepatitis B, and insisting on "no-exceptions" vaccine mandates, are becoming clearer every day. The only hope that citizens of every country have to protect their health and the health of their children is to stand up and pass laws which allow informed, voluntary use of vaccines and prohibit discrimination against those who have a disease or are vaccine injured.

NVIC's Hepatitis B Commentaries and Video Collection

NVIC Hepatitis B Video Playlist

View the collection of video resources within the player below for more information on hepatitis b and the hepatitis b vaccine.

To view the entire video collection, click the hamburger menu in the upper left corner of the video player above. This will expand a full list of videos. You may also open the video player in full screen mode for optimal display.

NVIC Press Releases

NVIC Articles

Additional Bibliography of References



Additional Information & Resources


1 FDA.gov. Vaccines, Blood & Biologics. Complete List of Vaccines Licensed for Immunization and Distribution in the U.S. Aug. 4, 2011. Online. http://www.fda.gov/BiologicsBloodVaccines/Vaccines/ApprovedProducts/UCM093833. (Accessed Feb 2012) 

2 World Health Organization. Media Centre Fact Sheets. Hepatitis B. August 2008. Online.http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs204/en/ (Accessed Feb 2012)

3 CDC.gov. Vaccines: The Pink Book. Hepatitis B. No date. Online.(Accessed Feb 2012)

4 CDC.gov. Hepatitis B. April 1, 2008. Online. (Accessed Feb 2012)

5 CDC. Summary of Notifiable Diseases, United States, 2010. (Historical Tables 1979-2010). MMWR June 1, 2010; 59(53): 1-111. 

6 CDC.gov. Hepatitis Statistics. Disease Burden from Viral Hepatitis A, B, and C in the United States. Sept. 13, 2011. Online.  (Accessed Feb 2012)

7 WebMd. EMedicineHealth.com. Hepatitis B. 2012. Online. (Accessed Feb 2012)

8 CDC.gov. Vaccines: The Pink Book. Hepatitis B Epidemiology and Prevention of Vaccine-Preventable Diseases. April 2011. Online.(Accessed Feb 2012)

9 Kasper D, Fauci A, Longo D, et al. Disorders of the Gastrointestinal System: Prophylaxis: Hepatitis B. Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine 16th Edition. 2005. pp 1836-1837.

10 CDC.gov. Vaccines: The Pink Book. Principles of Vaccination. No date. Online. (Accessed Feb 2012)

11 Bridges Carolyn B. Adult Immunization in the United States, 2012 Update. Jan. 5, 2012. Online.. (Accessed Feb 2012)

12 CDC.gov. Hepatitis B Information for Health Professionals. Hepatitis B FAQs for Health Professionals. Jan. 31, 2012. Online. (Accessed Feb 2012)

13 Medalerts.org. VAERS Database. Hepatitis All Events. Feb. 20, 2012. Online. (Accessed Feb 2012) 

14 Wasley A, Kruszon-Moran D, Kuhnert W, et al. The Prevalence of hepatitis B Virus Infection in the United States in the Era of Vaccination. J Infect Dis. (2010) 202(2):192-201. Online. (Accessed Feb 2012)

15 CDC.gov. Vaccines. 2012 Adult Immunization Schedule. Changes in the Schedule Since Last Version.  Feb. 27, 2012. Online. (Accessed Feb 2012)

16 World Health Organization. Hepatitis B. World Health Organization Fact Sheet No. 2008. 

17 CDC:MMWR. Hepatitis B Virus: A Comprehensive Strategy for Eliminating Transmission in the United States through Universal Childhood Vaccination. Recommendations of the Immunization Practices Advisory Committee (ACIP). Sept. 1991. Online. (Accessed Feb 2012)  

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