Hepatitis B vaccine
What is hepatitis B?
Hepatitis B is a disease caused by a virus that infects the liver.
Who should get the vaccine?
- Newborns of mothers who have hepatitis B.
- All children before or in early adolescence. In some provinces and territories it is given to all during infancy. To find out when your province offers the vaccine visit: http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/im/ptimprog-progimpt/table-1-eng.php. In places where vaccine is not given to all infants, some children should not wait for the school program but should get the shot as soon as possible.
- Everyone living in a house with someone with hepatitis B (unless already immune).
- All children whose families have immigrated from areas with high rates of hepatitis B.
- Children living in Canadian communities with high rates of hepatitis B, unless they are already immune.
- Children with conditions that require frequent transfusions of blood or blood products or on hemodialysis (treatment for kidney disease).
- Children who are traveling to countries where the rate of hepatitis B is high.
- Teenagers and adults in the list above who did not get the vaccine as infants or in school should get the vaccine unless they are already immune.
- People who are at higher risk of contact with blood such as health care workers, some laboratory workers and people who share needles for drug injection.
If your child attends daycare, talk to your doctor about whether she should get the hepatitis B vaccine.
How do you get the vaccine?
The hepatitis B vaccine is available alone or in combination with the “5-in-1” vaccine (“6-in-1” vaccine) or with the hepatitis A vaccine.
- A nurse or doctor will give you a needle in your arm or leg.
- When given alone, it is most common to get the vaccine in 3 doses over a 6-month period. The second dose is given 1 month after the first. The third is given 5 months after the second.
- When given as “6-in-1” vaccine, 3 doses are given starting at 2 months of age. The last dose may be given at 6 months or at 18 months.
- The combined hepatitis A and B vaccine is good for people who are traveling and may be used in some school immunization programs. Children under 1 year of age should not be given the combination vaccine.
When you get the vaccine and how many shots you get depends on where you live in Canada. Speak to your doctor about what is right for you.
How safe is the vaccine?
- It is very safe.
- With any vaccine, there may be some redness, swelling or pain where the needle went into the arm or leg.
Who should not get the vaccine?
- People who have had a serious allergic reaction to a previous dose of the vaccine (swelling of the face or lips, difficulty breathing or if your blood pressure drops) should not get it again unless seen by a specialist and vaccinated in a special clinic that can control severe reactions.
For complete information on vaccinations in Canada, read Your Child’s Best Shot: A Parent’s Guide to Vaccination.
More information from the CPS:
Reviewed by the following CPS committees:
- Infectious Diseases and Immunization Committee
Last Updated: July 2015