Hepatitis B Why get vaccinated? Hepatitis B is a serious disease. The hepatitis B virus (HBV) can cause short-term acute illness that leads to: loss of appetite; tiredness; pain in muscles, joints, and stomach; diarrhea and vomiting; jaundice (yellow skin or eyes). It can alos cause long-term (chronic) illness tht leads to: liver damage (cirrhosis); liver cancer; death. About 1.25 million people in the U.S. have chronic HBV infection. Each year it is estimated that: 80,000 people, mostly young adults, get infected with HBV; more than 11,000 people have to stay in the hospital because of hepatitis B; 4,000-to-5,000 people die from chronic hepatitis
How is hepatitis B virus spread? Hepatitis B virus is spread through contact with the blood and body fluids of an infected person. A person can get infected in several ways, such as: by having unprotected sex with an infected person; by sharing needles when injecting illegal drugs; by being stuck with a used needle on the job; during birth when the virus passes from an infected mother to her baby. About 1/3 of people who are infected with hepatitis B in the United States don't know how they got it.
Who should get hepatitis B vaccine and when? Everyone 18 years of age and younger. Adults over 18 who are at risk Adults at risk for HBV infection include: - people who have more than one sexual partner in 6 months - men who have sex with other men - sex contacts of infected people - people who inject illegal drugs - helath care and publc safety workers who might be exposed to infected blood or body fluids - household contacts of persons with chronic HBV infection - hemodialysis patients If you are not sure whether you are at risk, ask your doctor or nurse
People should get 3 doses of hepatitis B vaccine according to the following schedule. If you miss a dose or get behing schedule, get the next dose as soon as you can. There is no need to start over. Hepatitis B