What is the Hepatitis B Vaccine?

Victoria Burke by Victoria Burke | Licensed since 2011
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This article was updated on: 09/15/2018

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The hepatitis B vaccine is a shot that can help prevent you from getting the hepatitis B virus. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the hepatitis B vaccine is about 95% effective.

The National Institutes of Health defines hepatitis B as “a viral infection that causes liver inflammation and damage”. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), hepatitis B affects about 257 million people worldwide. The virus is transmitted through contact with the body fluids of an infected person, including blood and saliva. The virus can live outside the body for 7 days or longer, the WHO reports, and it can spread through sex or sharing needles to take drugs, and can be life-threatening.

Does the hepatitis B vaccine work?

Fortunately, hepatitis B  is generally preventable through the hepatitis B vaccine. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that thanks to the hepatitis B shot, the number new cases of “hep B” infections in the United States decreased from a high of over 25,000 in the mid-1980s to fewer than 3000 in 2014.

Who may want to get the hepatitis B vaccine?

According to the Centers for Disease Control, everyone aged 19 and under should get the hepatitis B vaccine. The CDC also says you’re considered at risk for hepatitis B and should get the hepatitis B vaccine (which some call the “hep B vaccine”) if any of the following applies to you:

  • You live with someone infected by hepatitis B.
  • You have HIV, diabetes, kidney disease, or chronic liver disease.
  • You’re a resident or work at a prison or a facility for the developmentally disabled.
  • You are a sexual partner of someone who has hepatitis B or who has sex with others.
  • You use injectable street drugs with shared needles.
  • You have more than one sexual partner or are a man who has sex with men.
  • You are a diabetic under age 60.
  • Your job involves possible contact with human blood or other body fluids.
  • You travel to countries where hepatitis B infections are common.

Please note that the list above doesn’t include every category of person the CDC recommends hepatitis B shots for. Also, the CDC says you may generally get the hepatitis B vaccine if you want it, even if you’re not considered at risk for the disease.

The CDC says you should tell the person giving the hepatitis B vaccine if you’re not feeling well or have any severe allergies.

More about the hepatitis B vaccine

Your doctor might recommend that you get the hepatitis B vaccine more than once, for example three or four times over a six-month period, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The hep B vaccine cannot give you hepatitis.

The CDC reports that the hepatitis B vaccine is very safe, and most people have no side effects from the injection. Over 100 million people in the U.S. have been vaccinated with the hepatitis shot.

Read about Medicare coverage of the hepatitis B vaccine.

Are you interested in learning more about Medicare coverage of preventive services such as the hepatitis B vaccine? I can explain how the various Medicare plan options may cover preventive services. Just click one of the links below to set up a phone call with me or request Medicare plan information from me. To explore plans at your convenience anytime, click the Find Plans or Compare Plans buttons on this page.

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