Hepatitis B vaccine offers very effective protection against infection with the disease. Hepatitis B vaccination is recommended as part of routine childhood immunization. Hepatitis B is a highly infectious viral disease (40-100 times more infectious than HIV) and is a major cause of chronic liver disease. It is spread through contact with the blood or other body fluids of an infected person. Pregnant women can infect their newborn babies. Infants and young children infected with this disease may only have mild symptoms or have no symptoms at all. However, babies are at much higher risk than adults of becoming lifetime carriers of the virus. A carrier may then be able to pass it on to other people.
Symptoms for this disease can show between 45 & 180 days after infection which may include fever, tiredness, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal, muscle & joint pain, skin rashes, dark urine and jaundice. More than a million people in United States are chronically infected with Hepatitis B. In India, 2-4% of individuals are chronic carriers of Hepatitis B Virus (HBV). Almost 25% of such Hepatitis B carriers may develop liver cancer or liver failure later in life. But this infection and its complications can be prevented by immunizing children with Hepatitis B vaccine as per immunization schedule.
98%-100% of children who get the vaccine develop immunity. When a Hepatitis B vaccine is administered, the body’s immune system recognizes the viral proteins in the vaccine as foreign and develops antibodies against them, thus providing immunity from future infections.
Available Brand names for Hepatitis B vaccine injection
Recombivax HB, Engerix-B. These vaccine injections are not available as Generic drug.
Brand names of Combination vaccines
Comvax (containing Haemophilus influenza type B, Hepatitis B vaccine)
Pediarix (containing Diphtheria, Tetanus Toxoids, Acellular Pertussis, Hepatitis B, Polio Vaccine)
Twinrix (containing Hepatitis A vaccine, Hepatitis B Vaccine)
Combination vaccines take two or more vaccines that could be given individually and put them into one shot. Children get the same protection as they do from Individual vaccines given separately, but with fewer shots. Also, before a Combination vaccine is approved for use, it goes through careful testing to make sure the vaccine is as safe and effective as each of the individual vaccines given separately. Side Effects from Combination vaccines are usually similar to those of the individual vaccines given separately but with fewer numbers of shots. Fewer shots may mean less pain for your child and less stress for you.
Hepatitis B vaccine Dose for newborns
It’s hard to imagine putting your newborn through the pain of a shot. But a little stick early in life is an important first step to protecting your baby against a deadly disease. 3 doses of Hepatitis B vaccine are needed for full protection. All babies should get the first shot of Hepatitis B vaccine before they leave the hospital. This shot acts as a safety net, reducing the risk of getting the disease from moms or family members who may not know they are infected with Hepatitis B. The second dose is recommended at 1-4 months and the third at 6-18 months. It takes only three doses to protect your children against Hepatitis B for a lifetime. No additional booster doses are needed.
When a mom has Hepatitis B, there is an additional medicine that can help protect the baby against the disease, called the Hepatitis B immune globulin (HBIG). HBIG gives a baby’s body a ‘boost’ or extra help to fight the virus as soon as he is born. This shot works best when the baby gets it within the first 12 hours of his life.
Conditions under which Hepatitis B vaccination should be avoided
A child who had a life threatening allergic reaction to a previous dose of Hepatitis B vaccine should not be vaccinated with it again. Children who didn’t get Hepatitis B shots as a baby and he/she is known to have a life threatening allergic reaction to yeast (the kind used in bread) should not get Hepatitis B vaccine because it’s made with that type of yeast.
Precautions to be taken
In general, the Hepatitis B vaccine isn’t as effective in preemies if they get it before they are 1 month old. If you have a preemie, talk to your child’s doctor to find out when your baby can get the vaccine.
All children who are moderately to severely ill should wait until they recover before getting the Hepatitis B vaccine.
Possible Side Effects of Hepatitis B vaccine
Hepatitis B is a very safe vaccine. About 3-9 children out of 100 have some soreness or swelling where the shot is given and up to 6 in 100 develop a mild fever. Up to 2 out of 100 might become tired or irritable. These reactions usually begin within 24 hours after the shot and last 2 or 3 days. More serious reactions are extremely rare. However, if the adverse event following immunization is unexpected or persistent, or if you are worried about your child’s condition, see your doctor or immunization nurse as soon as possibly or go directly to a hospital.
Now that you know about Hepatitis B and related vaccine do’s and don’ts, lets know about How to prepare yourself and your child before Hepatitis B vaccine
- Make the vaccination appointment.
- Read any vaccine materials you received from your child’s health care professional & write down any questions you may have.
Take your child’s personal immunization record to your appointment.
Get to the vaccination appointment on time.
Stay calm during the vaccination.
Pacify your child during the vaccination.
Before the injection, tell the nurse about any bad reactions your child has had after any previous vaccinations.
For your child
Vaccination-friendly clothes – Dress your child lightly. Babies under 12 months have injections in the thigh. Toddlers and older children have them in the arm.
Get enough food and pacifiers for the baby so that they remain diverted throughout the session.
Apply a clean and wet washcloth over the sore area for comfort.
Give mild painkiller or paracetamol after vaccination if fever develops. This should be done only with doctor’s consultation.
- Recheck your child’s temperature at regular intervals.
- If your child has been crying for more than 3 hours and just won’t quit, call the healthcare.