Medical News Today: What are the possible side effects of the hepatitis B vaccine?

Although it might cause the injection site to become sore or other mild side effects, the hepatitis B vaccine is very safe and effective at preventing the virus. More serious side effects are rare.

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?

Nurse giving a Hepatitis b vaccine
Reports suggest that there is no association between the hepatitis B vaccine and serious health outcomes.

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.


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Side effects

The hepatitis B vaccine causes common side effects in around 1 in 10 people who have it.

Uncommon side effects may occur in 1 in 100 people, with more serious side effects being rare and affecting only around 1 in 1,000 people.

Common side effects

Common side effects of the hepatitis B vaccine include:

  • discomfort around the injection site for hours or days after getting the shot
  • headache
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • high temperature
  • fatigue
  • irritability
  • stomach pain

Uncommon side effects

Uncommon side effects include:

  • flu-like symptoms
  • muscle ache
  • dizziness or disorientation

Rare side effects

Rare side effects include:

As with any medicine, it can be difficult to determine whether side effects are a direct result of the vaccination or something else. This is particularly true with rare side effects.

It is also possible that healthcare professionals will identify further side effects in the future. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have systems in place to continuously monitor the safety of vaccinations.

When to see a doctor

Most symptoms are mild and will go away on their own. It is common to experience discomfort at the injection site, which can last for 1 or 2 days.

Consult a doctor as soon as possible if uncommon or rare side effects occur. This is important to determine whether these are symptoms of an underlying health condition or if the vaccine is the cause.


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During pregnancy

Pregnant woman being given an injection
Data suggests that the hepatitis B vaccine does not have a negative impact on a developing fetus or the parent.

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.


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Outlook

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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