Hepatitis B

Protect Yourself with Hepatitis B vaccine!

Hepatitis B is a contagious liver disease that ranges in severity from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a serious, lifelong illness. It results from infection with the Hepatitis B virus.

In 2007, there were an estimated 43,000 new Hepatitis B virus infections in the United States. However, the official number of reported Hepatitis B cases is much lower. Many people don't know they are infected or may not have symptoms and therefore never seek the attention of medical or public health officials. In the United States, an estimated 800,000 to 1.4 million persons have chronic Hepatitis B virus infection.

How is Hepatitis B spread?
Hepatitis B is spread when blood, semen, or other body fluid infected with the Hepatitis B virus enters the body of a person who is not infected. People can become infected with the virus during activities such as:

  • Birth (spread from an infected mother to her baby during birth)
  • Sex with an infected partner
  • Sharing needles, syringes, or other drug-injection equipment
  • Sharing items such as razors or toothbrushes with an infected person
  • Direct contact with the blood or open sores of an infected person, as in emergency medical response or disaster relief
  • Exposure to blood from needlesticks or other sharp instruments or emergency medical treatment outside the U.S.  

Among adults in the United States, Hepatitis B is most commonly spread through sexual contact and accounts for nearly two-thirds of acute Hepatitis B cases. In fact, Hepatitis B is 50“100 times more infectious than HIV and can be passed through the exchange of body fluids, such as semen, vaginal fluids, and blood.

How is Hepatitis B prevented?
The best way to prevent Hepatitis B is by getting the Hepatitis B vaccine. The Hepatitis B vaccine is safe and effective and is usually given as 3 shots over a 6-month period.
Children and Adolescents

  • All children should get their first dose of Hepatitis B vaccine at birth and complete the vaccine series by 6“18 months of age.
  • All children and adolescents younger than 19 years of age who have not yet received the vaccine should also be vaccinated. "Catch-up" vaccination is recommended for children and adolescents who were never vaccinated or who did not get the entire vaccine series.

Any adult who is at risk for Hepatitis B virus infection or who wants to be vaccinated should talk to a health professional about getting the vaccine series. Travelers to regions with moderate or high rates of Hepatitis B should get the Hepatitis B vaccine. If you are traveling outside of the U.S., visit CDC.gov/travel for more specific information related to Hepatitis B and other information you need before you travel.

Hepatitis B vaccine is also offered in combination with the Hepatitis A vaccine for those who need the protection of both vaccines.

Most of the above information was taken from http://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/B/bFAQ.htm .
For more specific information, refer to the Hepatitis B Vaccine Information Statement (VIS) found at http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/pubs/vis/downloads/vis-hep-b.pdf

SHOTS, etc. offers a Patient Assistance Program for individuals who have no insurance and who meet financial guidelines. Certain vaccines may be obtained for a nominal injection fee. Visit www.SHOTSetc.com  for details.