Hepatitis B virus affects
the liver. It can cause a mild illness with fever, nausea, vomiting, and jaundice
that lasts for a few weeks. Or it can cause a lifelong infection. Lifelong carriers
of the virus may get liver problems later, such as cirrhosis (scarred and damaged
liver) or liver cancer.
HepB Immunization Schedule
Kids usually get the hepatitis B vaccine (HepB) as a series of 3 shots:
shortly after birth
at 1–2 months of age
at 6–18 months of age
For the first shot:
If a newborn's mother carries the hepatitis B virus in her blood, the baby must
get the vaccine within 12 hours after birth. The baby also needs
another shot — hepatitis B immune globulin (HBIG) — to provide protection
against the virus right away.
If a newborn's mother doesn't have the virus in her blood, the baby can get the
HepB vaccine within 24 hours after birth.
Anyone can get the vaccine series at any time if they missed it as a baby. This
is especially important for people who are at higher risk of getting infected. This
includes health care and public safety workers, people with chronic liver or kidney
disease, people with HIV infection,
and people who inject drugs.
Some kids may need to get vaccinated again later in life. These include children:
whose mothers carry the hepatitis B virus in their blood
The HepB injection usually creates long-term immunity. Most infants who get the
HepB series are protected from hepatitis B infection beyond childhood, into their
Eliminating the risk of infection also decreases risk for cirrhosis of the liver,
chronic liver disease, and liver cancer.
Possible Risks of HepB Vaccine
Side effects usually are mild, and can include a mild fever and soreness or redness
at the injection site. Allergic reactions to the vaccine are rare.
When to Delay or Avoid HepB Immunization
Doctors delay giving the vaccine to babies who weigh less than 4 pounds, 7 ounces
(2,000 grams) at birth whose mothers do not have the virus in their blood. The baby
will get the first dose at 1 month of age or when the baby is discharged from the
The vaccine is not recommended if your child:
is currently sick, although simple colds
or other minor illnesses should not prevent immunization
Your child may have fever,
soreness, and some swelling and redness at the shot site. For pain and fever, check
with your doctor to see if you can give either acetaminophenor ibuprofen,
and to find out the right dose.
When Should I Call the Doctor?
Call the doctor if:
You're not sure of the recommended schedule for the HepB vaccine.
You have concerns about your own hepatitis B carrier state.
Your child has moderate or serious side effects after getting a HepB injection.