Hepatitis B Vaccine Safety
The Hepatitis B virus causes a contagious liver disease that can cause cancer and cirrhosis (scarring of the liver). It is spread when infected blood, semen, or other body fluid enters the body of a person who is not infected. You can protect against Hepatitis B with safe, effective vaccination.
The Hepatitis B vaccine is very safe, and it is effective at preventing the Hepatitis B disease. Vaccines, like any medicine, can have side effects. Most people who get the Hepatitis B vaccine have no side effects at all. Some people report having very mild side effects, like a sore arm from the shot for a day or two. The most common side effects are usually mild and last 1 or 2 days.
Common Side Effects of Hepatitis B Vaccine:
- Sore arm from the shot
On extremely rare occasions, people may experience severe (anaphylactic) allergic reactions after a Hepatitis B shot. Hepatitis B vaccine is not recommended for anyone who is allergic to yeast, or to any other component of the vaccine.
There are four Hepatitis B vaccines approved for use in the United States, two of which are combined with vaccines for other diseases.
- Engerix-B [PDF – 110 KB]: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved this vaccine in 1989 for use in people from birth through adulthood, although the dose varies. Hepatitis B vaccination is especially recommended for infants and adults getting hemodialysis treatment.
- Recombivax HB [PDF – 100 KB]: FDA approved this vaccine in 1983 for use in people from birth through adulthood, although the dose varies. Hepatitis B vaccination is especially recommended for infants and adults getting hemodialysis treatment.
- Pediarix [PDF – 242 KB]: FDA approved this combination vaccine in 2002 for use in infants and children 6 weeks through 6 years old. This vaccine protects against Hepatitis B, diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, and polio.
- Twinrix [PDF – 134 KB]: FDA approved this vaccine in 2001 for protection against Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B. It is approved for use in people 18 years and older.
CDC and FDA continuously monitor the safety of vaccines after they are approved. If a problem is found with a vaccine, CDC and FDA will inform health officials, health care providers, and the public.
CDC uses three systems to monitor vaccine safety:
- The Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS): an early warning system that helps CDC and FDA monitor problems following vaccination. Anyone can report possible vaccine side effects to VAERS.
- The Vaccine Safety Datalink (VSD): a collaboration between CDC and nine health care organizations which allows ongoing monitoring and proactive searches of vaccine-related data.
- The Clinical Immunization Safety Assessment (CISA) Project: a partnership between CDC and several medical centers that conducts clinical research on vaccine-associated health risks.
- A VSD study compared deaths among newborns vaccinated with Hepatitis B and unvaccinated newborns. The study found no differences between the vaccinated and unvaccinated newborns.
- CDC studied VAERS reports after the combination Hepatitis A Inactivated and Hepatitis B (Recombinant) vaccine from May 2001 to September 2003. There were no unexpected health problems.
- In the early 1990’s, CDC conducted a study of healthy, full-term newborns to determine whether Hepatitis B vaccination of newborns increases the risk of fever and/or suspected sepsis. The study found no evidence that newborn Hepatitis B vaccination is linked with any increase in fevers, sepsis evaluations, or allergy or brain problems. The study did not find any increase in medical procedures related to babies getting a Hepatitis B vaccine.
- In a 4-year case series review of Hepatitis B vaccine reports among newborns, there were no serious health problems linked to the Hepatitis B vaccine. This was the largest case series review of Hepatitis B vaccination reports among neonates and infants. Several studies have evaluated a possible link between Hepatitis B vaccination and multiple sclerosis or optic neuritis. The studies did not show any link.
- Hepatitis B Vaccine Information Statement
- Hepatitis B Vaccine: Who Should Not Get Vaccinated
- Hepatitis B: Who Needs to Be Vaccinated?
- Frequently Asked Questions: Is the Hepatitis B vaccine safe?
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- Page last reviewed: October 27, 2015
- Page last updated: October 27, 2015
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