Disease & Vaccine Information

Hepatitis B Disease & Vaccine Information

Find Information You Need to Make Informed Vaccine Decisions
Updated September 01, 2022


Hepatitis B virus

Hepatitis B: The Disease

Hepatitis B (HBV) is a viral infection that infects the liver and requires direct contact with infected blood or other body fluids for transmission and most acute infections do not persist and become chronic.

Symptoms of hepatitis B generally appear in 90 days and last a few weeks, and about half of infected adults and children over the age of five will have symptoms, while many children under the age of five will not.  Symptoms include fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dark urine, discolored (clay) bowel movements, joint pain and jaundice (yellowish skin or eyes).  Learn more about Hepatitis B disease …

Hepatitis B Vaccine

There are six recombinant hepatitis B vaccines and one adjuvanted hepatitis B vaccine approved by the FDA in the U.S. 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 who are at higher risk of infection due to lifestyle choices or underlying health condition, possible exposure through infected blood, and travel to endemic countries. Learn more about Hepatitis B vaccine

Hepatitis B 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.   
  • In the U.S., individuals at highest risk for hepatitis B infection are those, who engage in risky behaviors such as illegal IV drug use, prostitution, men who have sex with men, heterosexuals with multiple sexual partners and people who have received blood transfusions using infected blood.  Continue reading quick facts

Hepatitis B Vaccine

  • There are six recombinant hepatitis B vaccines approved by the FDA for use in the U.S.: Engerix-B; Recombivax HB; Twinrix (combined with hepatitis A); and Pediarix (combined with diphtheria and tetanus toxoids, acellular pertussis adsorbed, and inactivated poliovirus).   The fifth, Comvax (combined with Haemophilus Influenza Type B (HIB) and Meningococcal Protein) is an approved vaccine but production of the vaccine was discontinued in December 2014.  The sixth is Heplisav-B, recombinant adjuvanted vaccine, and was recommended for use in adults by the CDC in 2018. 
  • 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. 
  • 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 users and persons with multiple sexual partners) to get the vaccine.      Continue reading quick facts...

Learn More About Hepatitis B and Hepatitis B Vaccine

Click here to view, download, or print all sections below as one document or webpage.

NVIC encourages you to become fully informed about Hepatitis B and the Hepatitis B vaccine by reading all sections in the Table of Contents below, 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.

 
 

 


Opens in new tab, window
Opens an external site
Opens an external site in new tab, window