There are three hepatitis B vaccines (containing hepatitis B vaccine only) and two combination vaccines (containing other vaccines as well as hepatitis B vaccine) available in the United States to prevent hepatitis B infection. All these vaccines use an inactivated, or killed, virus.
Because hepatitis B can pass from mother to baby or by family members who don't know they are infected with hepatitis B, it is recommended that all infants receive their first dose of hepatitis B vaccine within 24 hours of birth, followed by a second dose at 1 to 2 months, and a third dose at 6 to 18 months. Infants who did not receive a dose at birth should begin the series as soon as possible.
There are two combination vaccines available for infants that contain hepatitis B vaccine. This vaccine is not used for the birth dose of the hepatitis B series. The combination vaccines protect against diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (DTaP), hepatitis B, polio, and Haemophilus influenzae type B (Hib).
Children should get a total of 3 doses of hepatitis B vaccine, but may get 4 doses if a combination vaccine is used. Adolescents between 11 to 15 years of age may be able to get 2 doses of a specific type of hepatitis B vaccine if they did not get the vaccine when younger. Adults may receive 2-3 doses of adult hepatitis B vaccines. Talk with your healthcare provider about which vaccine is right for you.
A combination vaccine that provides protection against both hepatitis A and B is available for those age 18 years and older. This vaccine is a series of 3 shots over a period of 6 months.
Immune globulin (HBIG) provides short-term prevention of hepatitis B in people of all ages recently exposed to hepatitis B, but the vaccine is preferred for long-term protection. HBIG along with hepatitis B vaccine may be given to certain people to help prevent infection from the virus.
Who should get hepatitis B vaccine?
All infants should get their first dose of hepatitis B vaccine within 24 hours of birth and will usually complete the series at 6 months of age.
All unvaccinated children and adolescents younger than 19 years of age should also get vaccinated.
All adults 19 through 59 years of age are recommended to get vaccinated.
Adults 60 years and older with risk factors should get vaccinated. Risk factors include:
- People whose sex partners have hepatitis B
- People who live with someone with hepatitis B
- Sexually active people who are not in a long-term relationship (for example, people who have had more than one sex partner in the past 6 months)
- People getting evaluated or treated for a sexually transmitted infection
- Men who have sex with men
- People who share needles, syringes, or other drug-injection equipment
- Health care and public safety workers at risk for exposure to blood or body fluids
- People with chronic liver disease, who are on dialysis, have HIV infection, or hepatitis C infection
- People with diabetes should ask their health care provider
- Developmentally disabled persons in long-term care facilities
- People in prison or jail
- Travelers to areas with high rates of hepatitis B
- For more information, see the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Travelers' Health website
- Anyone who wants to be protected from hepatitis B
Washington State-Supplied Vaccine
- Current State-Supplied Hepatitis B-Containing Vaccines for children under age 19
- Adult Vaccine Program
- Hepatitis B (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Hepatitis B information (CDC)
- Immunization Action Coalition: Ask the experts – hepatitis B (Immunization Action Coalition)
- Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices hepatitis B vaccine recommendations (CDC)