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Hepatitis B is a common disease in the United States. The good news is that the hepatitis B vaccine gives more than 90% protection to people who get the vaccine.
There are 2 vaccines that protect against hepatitis B:
Because of the vaccine, cases of acute (short-term) hepatitis B have decreased by a lot in the United States. But chronic (long-term) hepatitis B is still common — up to 2.2 million people in the United States have it. Chronic hepatitis B can lead to serious liver problems — and even death.
Getting vaccinated is the best way to prevent hepatitis B.
Hepatitis B is a liver disease caused by a virus. There are 2 types of hepatitis B:
Many children who get acute hepatitis B don’t have any symptoms, but most adults do. Symptoms may include:
Acute hepatitis B symptoms usually last a few weeks — but they can last as long as 6 months.
If the acute hepatitis B infection does not go away after 6 months, it’s considered a chronic hepatitis B infection. Most people who have chronic hepatitis B don’t have symptoms at first. But chronic hepatitis B is a lifelong illness that can lead to serious — and possibly deadly — liver problems, like:
Hepatitis B spreads through blood, semen, or other body fluids. Hepatitis B can spread from mother to child during birth — and when someone:
All children need to get the hepatitis B vaccine — and some adults may need it, too.
All children need to get the hepatitis B vaccine as part of their routine vaccine schedule.
Children need 3 doses of the vaccine at the following ages:
Children and teens younger than 19 years who did not get the hepatitis B vaccine can still get vaccinated. Talk with your child’s doctor about a catch-up shot.
Adults who are at risk for hepatitis B can also get vaccinated. The vaccine is given in 3 doses. The second dose is given 1 month after the first dose, followed by a third dose 6 months after the second dose.
You may be at risk for hepatitis B if you:
If you’re age 18 and older and at risk for both hepatitis B and hepatitis A, you may be able to get a combination vaccine that protects against both diseases. You may be at risk for both diseases if you:
Talk with your doctor about how to protect your family from hepatitis B.
Some people should not get the hepatitis B vaccine — or may need to wait to get it. Be sure to tell your doctor before getting vaccinated if you:
Side effects are usually mild and go away in a few days. They may include:
Serious side effects from the hepatitis B vaccine are very rare.
Like any medicine, there's a very small chance that the hepatitis B vaccine could cause a serious reaction. Keep in mind that getting the hepatitis B vaccine is much safer than getting hepatitis B. Learn more about vaccine side effects.
Vaccine Information Statements (VISs) have detailed information about recommended vaccines.
Last reviewed: January 2018