Hepatitis B vaccine
What is hepatitis B?
Hepatitis B is a disease caused by a virus that infects the liver. The virus, which is called hepatitis B virus (HBV), can cause lifelong infection, cirrhosis (scarring) of the liver, liver cancer, liver failure, and death. Hepatitis B vaccine is available for all age groups to prevent HBV infection.
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. 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 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.