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Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is a serious liver infection passed person-to-person through blood and other bodily fluids. One of the common ways to get hepatitis B is mother-to-child transmission. Hepatitis B can be passed to babies during childbirth, which is why newborns are given a hep B vaccine at birth.

Symptoms of hepatitis B include:

  • abdominal pain
  • fever
  • joint pain
  • weakness and fatigue
  • yellowing of the skin and the whites of eyes (jaundice)

A hepatitis B infection can be acute (lasting less than 6 months) or chronic (lasting 6 months or longer).  Acute hepatitis B can lead to chronic hepatitis B. Chronic hepatitis B can last a lifetime and lead to serious illnesses such as cirrhosis and liver cancer. The younger you are when you get hepatitis B, the more likely it will become chronic. There is no cure for hepatitis B, but vaccines can prevent it.

The vaccine is 80 – 100% effective when a person completes the series. The series is between 2 and 4 doses, depending on which vaccine you get.

The hepatitis B vaccine is very safe. Like any vaccine or medication, there can be side effects, but they are usually mild and go away on their own. The most common side effect is soreness in the arm where the vaccination is received. 

Mild vaccine reactions are normal and signs the body is mounting an immune response to protect against hepatitis B.

The hep B vaccine is a series of 2-4 doses depending on which vaccine your child gets.  They should get the vaccine at:

  • Birth
  • 1-2 months
  • 4-6 months

There should be at least 4 weeks between the first and second dose and at least 8 weeks between doses 2 and 3.

Talk to your healthcare provider about what other vaccines your family needs.

Is your child due for a Hepatitis B vaccine? Get our Hepatitis B fact sheet to help you prepare!

Learn more

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How do I know this information is credible?

We work for parents so we make sure that parent concerns are addressed using facts and science and our content is reviewed by experts who have spent their careers studying vaccines. Learn more about how we ensure we are bringing you the best information to help you make healthy choices for your family.

What if you could lower your child’s risk of cancer at birth? You can! Did you know that 1.2 million people in the U.S. carry the Hep B virus? Most don’t even know it. One of the most common ways to get Hep B is from mother to baby at birth. 15-25% of people with chronic Hep B will develop liver cancer or cirrhosis as adults. Still not convinced about the importance of the Hep B vaccine? Consider this: Liver cancer in Alaskan Native youth dropped to ZERO after universal newborn Hep B vaccination. There are a lot of cancers we can’t prevent yet. But this one we can. Protect your child!
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