Hepatitis B Prevention

How can I protect myself and my family?

  • Through vaccination – Vaccination is the best way to protect yourself and your family from HBV infection. Talk to your healthcare provider about which members of your family should be vaccinated
  • Use a condom or dental dam during sex acts
  • Do not share needles – utilize needle exchange services
  • Do not share toothbrushes or razors
  • Wear latex or plastic gloves when in contact with blood, and clean spills with a solution of 1 part household bleach to 10 parts water
  • Only get tattooed and pierced with licensed body art practitioners that properly sterilize their needles – find out more about California’s laws on safe body art practices.

Who should get vaccinated?

The US recommends 3 doses of HBV vaccine to ensure full protection. Specific vaccination schedules are recommended by the CDC for babies and children, for preteens and teens, and for adults). For babies, the first dose is typically given at birth, the second at 1-2 months of age, and the third at 6-18 months of age. These shots are part of the normal schedule of vaccines that a child’s pediatrician will administer, and that will be administered at the time of birth. Additionally, anyone through 18 years of age who has not started the vaccine series should be vaccinated.
In addition to the above recommendations, California state law requires that children who attend childcare or K-12 school (excluding home school) have received specific numbers of several vaccines, including hepatitis B vaccine. Many colleges also require evidence of hepatitis B vaccination.
Some adults should also be vaccinated if they do not have a history of vaccination, especially if they are at higher risk of infection. Adults who are unsure of their immune status to HBV should speak to their doctors about getting vaccinated. Because infection can be asymptomatic for so long, some people may be advised to get tested for infection before they are vaccinated – especially those who were born in countries where Hepatitis B is endemic.

In brief:

  • Infants and Children
    • The vaccination schedule used for recommendations in the US includes vaccination with at least 3 doses of HBV vaccine starting at birth
    • If these doses are not administered when a child is a baby, they are recommended to follow a “catch up” schedule and get them through age 18
  • Students in California

How safe is the Hepatitis B vaccine?

The HBV vaccine is very safe. Side effects with this vaccine are uncommon, but may include soreness where the shot was given, and fever. Fever after vaccination is a common side effect for most vaccines, and is due to the immune system mounting a response against the vaccine, which is the desired result of vaccination. This fever is low grade and will resolve on its own. Because of how the vaccine is made, people with severe yeast allergy are not recommended to get HBV vaccine.

Where do I go to get myself or my family vaccinated?

The best place to receive an HBV vaccine is at your doctor’s office. Many pharmacies can also administer many vaccines, including those for hepatitis B. Use the Adult Vaccine Finder for a list of pharmacies and providers near you. For people without insurance, there are many vaccination clinics in Alameda County.

Any time you receive a vaccine, be sure to keep your Immunization Record. If you are unsure of your vaccine history, here are Tips for Locating Old Immunization Records.

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