Hepatitis B vaccine: Safety and side effects

Hepatitis causes inflammation in the liver. The cause of hepatitis B is a virus that can spread through the blood or other bodily fluids.

Hepatitis B may not cause symptoms and will clear up without treatment in some cases. In other cases, however, it will require treatment and can cause issues such as digestive problems and flu-like symptoms. It can also have serious consequences, including permanent liver damage.

Developing hepatitis B is less common in countries such as the United States, but it is still a risk. The hepatitis B vaccine is highly effective at preventing the infection.

Is it safe?

The risks associated with the hepatitis B vaccine are negligible, including in children and people who are pregnant.

A report that appears in the journal Vaccine assesses adverse events in adults after receiving either a hepatitis A or B vaccine in 2001–2003.

Beyond mild side effects, the scientists found no association between the vaccine and any serious health outcomes.

However, the vaccine may cause reactions in people who are allergic to it. This could become serious if it leads to anaphylactic shock.

The available data indicate that the hepatitis B vaccine is safe for pregnant people. They also suggest that hepatitis B vaccines do not have a negative impact on developing fetuses or the parent.

It is crucial to prevent infection with the hepatitis virus during pregnancy, as it can cause serious harm to the parent and child.

Current U.S. recommendations state that everyone who receives prenatal care should undergo screening for hepatitis.

These screenings can help identify people who are at risk of the virus, such as those who regularly use needles.

It is particularly important that these people receive a vaccination to protect the baby from infection.

What vaccines are available?

There are four types of hepatitis B vaccine currently available in the U.S.:

  • Engerix-B
  • Recombivax HB
  • Pediarix
  • Twinrix

Each vaccine contains a protein from the hepatitis B virus. However, the vaccine is inactive, meaning that the protein from the virus is dead.

As a result, the vaccine cannot cause the virus.


Hepatitis B can become a serious condition without proper treatment. It is also highly contagious and is easy to transmit.

The hepatitis B vaccine is effective at preventing the spread of the virus. All of the available data from several decades of use show that it is safe to use, including while pregnant and among children.

Mild side effects are relatively common and include discomfort at the injection site. More serious side effects are rare and should not be a cause for concern for most people.

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