Children who did not receive the vaccine after birth, travelers, sexually active adults, those who live with someone infected with hepatitis B, men who have sex with men, hepatitis B lab workers, and those infected with HIV should consider being vaccinated against hepatitis B.
An inactive version of the hepatitis B virus is injected under the skin in order to build antibodies against the virus.
The vaccine requires a series of infections within a set time frame. Infants and children receive 3 or 4 doses over a 6 to 18-month period. Adults receive 3 doses within a 6-month period of time.
When administered correctly, the hepatitis B vaccine has a 95% success rate. A decreased response to the vaccine has been observed in patients over 40 years old, as well as in those who abuse alcohol, smoke, are obese, or are taking immunosupressive medications.
Some noted side effects for the hepatitis B vaccine are: localized pain or skin irritation around injection site, digestive disturbances, headache, dizziness, joint pain, fever, nausea, vomiting, and fatigue. Notify a doctor if you experience more severe side effects such as sore throat, pounding heart, or abnormal bruising or bleeding.
Patients with yeast allergies, and those who are moderately to severely ill should not get the hepatitis B vaccine. Patients who experienced a severe allergic reaction to the initial dosage should not receive the subsequent doses.
There are many hepatitis B products available, some common ones are Elovac B® (Human Biologicals Institute), Engerix-B® (GlaxoSmithKline), GeneVac-B® (Serum Institute), and Recombicax® (Merck) In addition, a combination vaccine is available for both hepatitis A and B protection. The name of this vaccine is Twinrix® (GlaxoKlineSmith).
Insurance sometimes covers the hepatitis B vaccine, especially for at-risk patients. Without insurance, estimated charges are $120-370 depending on geographical location, as well as consultation and administering fees. The fees for the combination vaccine Twinix® total approximately $330-$700.