Hepatitis B

Contagious virus spread mainly by blood, sexual contact or from mother to newborn baby. Causes acute hepatitis or chronic carriage.

Effects of the disease

About one in four chronic carriers will develop cirrhosis or liver cancer.

How to immunise and when

Several doses of hepatitis B vaccine are required to provide full protection against the disease. For babies, the first dose is given soon after birth, the second is due at 2 months of age (but can be given from 6 weeks of age), the third at 4 months of age and the final at 6 months of age. The last three doses are combined with other vaccines, such as DTPa (diphtheria-tetanus-acellular pertussis).

Side effects of immunisation

About one in 15 has pain at the site of injection and one in 100 people experiences fever. Anaphylaxis (a sudden and severe allergic reaction which results in a serious fall in blood pressure) occurs in about one in 600,000.

If you have any concerns about side effects of vaccines, talk to your doctor or nurse.

Page last updated: 10 Aug 2017