Hepatitis B Vaccine

Hepatitis B vaccination is the best way to prevent hepatitis B infection. A hepatitis B vaccine (Engerix-B®) has been available since 1982. It is administered in a series of three immunizations and provides more than 90% protection for both adults and children. The vaccine generally protects against the hepatitis B virus (HBV) for at least 15 years.

Almost anyone can receive the vaccine, including infants, older adults and those with immune deficiencies. Infants usually receive the vaccine during the first year of life, with injections administered at two, four and nine months of age. In the last decade, recombinant DNA technology has been used to produce the vaccine in the United States. Rather than using the blood of infected patients, the HBV antigen used in the vaccine is produced in a laboratory.

Side effects tend to be mild and may include:

  • weakness
  • fatigue
  • headache
  • nausea
  • soreness
  • swelling at the injection site

Although concerns have been raised that the HBV vaccine may increase the risk of autoimmune disease and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), studies have found no correlation.


Selected References

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Viral Hepatitis B. www.cdc.gov. Accessed March 29, 2009.

Hepatitis Foundation International. Caring for Your Liver. www.hepfi.org. Accessed March 29, 2009.

National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NDDIC). Viral Hepatitis: A Through E and Beyond. http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov. Accessed March 29, 2009.

Natural Standard: The Authority on Integrative Medicine. www.naturalstandard.com. Copyright © 2009. Accessed March 29, 2009.

World Health Organization (WHO). Hepatitis B. www.who.int. Accessed March 29, 2009. The Hepatitis Information Network. www.hepnet.com. Accessed March 29, 2009.