About Hepatitis B
Hepatitis B is caused by hepatitis B virus (HBV). Hepatitis B can cause mild illness that lasts for a few weeks (acute hepatitis), or can result in a serious life long illness (chronic hepatitis). The acute infection develops within 6 months after a person is exposed to the hepatitis B virus.
When the virus remains in the body for a considerable period, a person develops a long-term disease called chronic hepatitis. Many a times, people who develop hepatitis B, do not have any symptoms. However, this is a serious disease and can cause damage to liver resulting in cirrhosis, liver cancer, and even death.
Why is a vaccine required?
Hepatitis B is spread when blood, semen, or other body fluid of an infected person comes in contact with a non-infected individual.¹ The disease could result through sex and sharing needles for drug use. It may also result through certain innocent acts like sharing toothbrushes or razors.
Some parents may start wondering: Why do infants need to be vaccinated?
There are some reasons for this:
- Since hepatitis B can spread by coming in contact with blood or body fluids, it can even be spread if an infected child bites another child without the disease.
- It is extremely critical to get the child vaccinated early in life. Because, the younger a child is when he or she gets the infection, the more likely it will result in something serious or life-threatening, like a chronic hepatitis B infection.
Babies born to mothers infected with hepatitis B are at an increased risk of developing the infection.4 Hepatitis B vaccine is considered to be most effective in preventing hepatitis B infection and other associated complications.5
Who should get the vaccine?
People who should consider taking the HBV vaccine include:
What is the schedule for Hepatitis vaccine?
Hepatitis B vaccine is generally given as a continuation of 3 doses:
How effective is the vaccine?
Only 3 shots of Hepatitis B vaccine are enough to protect you and your loved ones against Hepatitis B, for a lifetime!
The hepatitis B injection gives life-long protection. It is scientifically proven that, babies who receive hep B injection early in life remain protected from the infection throughout their adult life.7
Does it have any side effects?
Hepatitis B vaccine is considered to be one of the safest and the most effective vaccines ever developed!6 More than a billion doses of this vaccine have been given all over the world.
As for the safety, parents need not worry as numerous research and studies have been carried out and it’s been proven scientifically that the vaccine is extremely safe.
Generally, hepatitis B does not have any major side effects. However, some minor adverse effects include soreness or redness at the site of injection. Very rarely, the person may develop fever after being vaccinated.
What if a dose for hepatitis B vaccine is missed?
- If your child’s hepatitis B vaccine schedule is delayed, there is no need to restart the vaccine series.
- If your baby’s second dose is delayed, he should get the second shot as early as possible. And you should maintain at least 8 weeks’ gap between the 2nd and 3rd
- If only the third dose is delayed, it should be given at the earliest possible, after the age of 24 weeks.
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1 J Clin Diagn Res. 2016 Feb;10(2)
2 Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2017 Feb 14
3 BMC Public Health. 2016 Feb 1
4 Zhonghua Gan Zang Bing Za Zhi. 2016 Dec 20
5 Am J Prev Med. 2001 May;20
6 Rev Gastroenterol Peru. 2007 Jan-Mar;27(1):57-66.
7 Pediatr Infect Dis J. 2017 Jan 26
8 Vaccine. 1989 Apr;7(2):106-10.