Body Art: Get Vaccinated

man with tattooed back

Get Vaccinated

There are many different bloodborne diseases, but not all of these diseases have vaccines available for protection. Currently, no vaccine exists to protect against hepatitis C or HIV. But a vaccine does exist to protect against hepatitis B.

Hepatitis B virus is one bloodborne pathogen. Hepatitis B is spread when blood or certain body fluids (e.g. semen) from an infected person get into the body of a person who is not infected. This can happen by getting stuck with a used needle, blood splashing into a person’s eyes, nose or mouth, or by having sexual contact with someone who has hepatitis B.

The hepatitis B virus has been found to survive for more than a week in dried blood. This means artists can still be exposed to the virus long after an infected person has left the shop if shop counters, chairs, needles, or equipment are not properly disinfected.

Symptoms, or signs, of hepatitis B may not show up for several months after a person has been infected. Only 70% of people who are infected with hepatitis B have symptoms. This means a person could be infected, but still look and feel healthy. People who do not have symptoms can still spread the virus and may eventually develop liver cancer or liver failure. Besides liver cancer and liver failure, hepatitis B can also cause life-long infection, cirrhosis (scarring) of the liver, and death.

Learn more about hepatitis B prevention. Here is some additional information for preventing exposures to hepatitis B and other bloodborne diseases:

  • Hepatitis B vaccination can prevent infection

    Hepatitis B is one virus people can be protected from. Currently, there is no vaccine to protect people from hepatitis C virus or HIV.

    A doctor or nurse can provide more information about the vaccine and the vaccine dosing schedule.

  • Employees can get vaccinated for FREE!

    Employers are required by Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations to make the hepatitis B vaccine available at no cost to employees who may be exposed to blood while at work.1

  • Employees who turn down the vaccine must sign a declination form

    Employees have the right to refuse the hepatitis B vaccine and/or any post-exposure evaluation and follow-up. OSHA regulations require employers to keep record of a vaccine refusal by having the employee sign a hepatitis B declination formexternal icon. 1 The studio owner must keep signed hepatitis B declination forms on file.1

    If later an employee changes his/her mind, OSHA regulations still require the employer to make the vaccine available at no cost.1

  • If exposed to blood, artists should seek emergency medical treatment

    If an artist is exposed to another person’s blood, the artist should notify the shop owner and immediately seek medical attention. If treatment is needed, it is more likely to be effective if it begins soon after the exposure happens.

The contents of this web page represent recommendations by NIOSH. They draw upon regulations and other materials from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in the U.S. Department of Labor, upon guidelines by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and from findings and recommendations by NIOSH. Sources for these recommendations are cited in footnotes. In considering these NIOSH recommendations, users should also be aware of applicable state and local laws that may impact their implementation.


1 (29 CFR Part 1910.1030) Bloodborne Pathogen Standardsexternal icon. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

* This guidance is written for healthcare workers, but may also be relevant to other work settings where contact with blood is possible.

Page last reviewed: September 25, 2013