Hepatitis B

 

  • Adolescent Vaccination Recommendation: The hepatitis B vaccine is given as three doses over a six-month period. The hepatitis B vaccine should be given to any adolescent through 18 years of age who was not immunized as an infant or young child.

About hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is a serious liver disease caused by the hepatitis B virus (HBV). Each year about 3,000-5,000 people die from cirrhosis or liver cancer caused by HBV. Hepatitis B can infect people of all ages, but the majority of cases occur in young adults.

Many people with hepatitis B do not have symptoms, and therefore, doctors use blood tests to diagnose the disease. Hepatitis B can be either acute or chronic. Acute HBV infection is a short-term illness that occurs within the first six months after someone is exposed to the virus. Symptoms may include loss of appetite, tiredness, stomachache, nausea, and vomiting. People infected might also experience yellowing of the whites of the eyes (jaundice) and/or joint pain.

Acute infection can, but does not always, lead to chronic infection. Chronic hepatitis B virus infection is a long-term illness that occurs when HBV remains in a person's body. Chronic hepatitis B disease can result in long-term health problems like cirrhosis and liver cancer. People with chronic HBV infection usually do not feel sick for many years. However, a person infected with HBV can still infect others even if they do not feel sick or show symptoms.

After three doses, the HBV vaccine provides greater than 90 percent protection to those immunized before being exposed to the virus.