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Which Vaccines Protect Against Hep B?

by Chari Cohen, Hepatitis B Expert
March 01, 2018

Question: Are there any vaccinations to protect against Hep B?

Answer: Yes! There is a safe and effective vaccine that is recommended for all infants at birth and for children up to 18 years of age. The hepatitis B vaccine is also recommended for adults living with diabetes and those at high risk for infection due to their jobs, lifestyle, living situations, or country of birth. Since everyone is at some risk, all adults should seriously consider getting the hepatitis B vaccine for a lifetime of protection against a preventable chronic liver disease.
The vaccine is given as three doses over a 6-month time period. The doses are given at 0, 1 and 6 months. The hepatitis B vaccine is also known as the first “anti-cancer” vaccine because it prevents hepatitis B, the leading cause of liver cancer worldwide.
There are specific groups that are at greater risk for hepatitis B infection, and the CDC recommends these individuals should receive the hepatitis B vaccine:
•    All infants, beginning at birth
•    All children aged <19 years who have not been vaccinated previously
•    Susceptible sexual partners of hepatitis B-positive persons
•    Sexually active persons who are not in a long-term, mutually monogamous relationship (e.g., >1 sex partner during the previous 6 months)
•    Persons seeking evaluation or treatment for a sexually transmitted disease
•    Men who have sex with men
•    Injection drug users
•    Susceptible household contacts of hepatitis B-positive persons
•    Healthcare and public safety workers at risk for exposure to blood
•    Persons with end-stage renal disease, including pre-dialysis, hemodialysis, peritoneal dialysis, and home dialysis patients
•    Residents and staff of facilities for developmentally disabled persons
•    Travelers to and families adopting from countries where hepatitis B is common (e.g. Asia, Africa, South America, Pacific Islands, Eastern Europe, and the Middle East)
•    Persons with chronic liver disease, other than hepatitis B (e.g. cirrhosis, fatty liver disease, etc.)
•    Persons with hepatitis C infection
•    Persons with HIV infection
•    Adults with diabetes aged 19 through 59 years (clinicians can decide whether or not to vaccinate their diabetic patients =60 years)
•    All other persons seeking protection from HBV infection — acknowledgment of a specific risk factor is not a requirement for vaccination

Chari Cohen is Director of Public Health for the Hepatitis B Foundation.

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