Hepatitis B Vaccine
What is Hepatitis B?
Hepatitis B is an infection caused by hepatitis B virus. Its incubation period can last up to 6 months. The virus will result in the death of massive liver cells and impairment of the liver function. Hepatitis B can be acute and chronic, of which the latter one is more common with possibly no symptoms shown at all after infection. On the other hand, the symptoms of acute hepatitis B include weakness, fatigue, fever, vomiting and jaundice. About a quarter of the patients will develop cirrhosis or liver cancer. In serious cases, liver failure or even death will be resulted. Hepatitis B patients may be able to defeat the virus by their own immune system. They will have lifelong immunity if they recover. However, if they don’t, they will carry the virus for a lifetime.
Transmission of Hepatitis B
Hepatitis B can be transmitted through blood and body fluids (semen and vaginal secretions). Saliva, tears, and other secretions have less hepatitis B virus, thus making transmission less likely. If a woman is carrying the virus while pregnant, there is a high chance the baby will be infected. About 70% to 90% of them will become a carrier at the end.
Prevention of Hepatitis B
So far, there is no medication that can effectively cure Hepatitis B, which makes prevention even more crucial. Vaccination is currently the most effective way to prevent the disease. 3 doses should be injected in 6 months. The second dose is to be injected 1 month after the first injection. The third one is 5 months after the second one. After three doses, you will have a lifelong immunity and your body will produce enough antibodies to defeat the virus.
Other preventive measures include:
- No sharing of needles
- Limit the number of sex partners or avoid unsafe sex
- No sharing of toothbrushes or razors
- Tools must be sterilized before piercing, tattooing, or acupuncture
- Wounds should be handled properly
Who should be vaccinated?
- Frequent visit to or residing in middle to high risk places, e.g. Mexico, Caribbean, and Africa
- Family members or partner are Hepatitis B carriers
- People with chronic liver disease
- People who receive blood transfusion or blood products often
- People who are on dialysis
- Healthcare workers who need to have contact with blood or body fluids
What are the common side effects?
The only side effect is the pain caused by the injection, but it will wear off soon.
Who are not recommended to get vaccinated?
- People who are allergic to vaccines or Hepatitis B vaccine
- Children who are seriously allergic to yeast (a bread ingredient)
- Must have checked Hepatitis A/B antigen and antibody within 3 months and provide a valid test report for the doctor to determine whether you are suitable for the injection.
- For those who fail to provide a valid report, Hepatitis A/B antigen and antibody test can be completed at our center (additional test fee required).
Our registered doctor will provide consultation to determine whether you are suitable for the injection (consultation fee is HK$380).
- Department of Health, Viral Hepatitis Preventive Service
- Centre for Health Protection, Department of Health
- Family Health Service, Department of Health
- The Family Planning Association of Hong Kong
- University Health Service, The University of Hong Kong
- Hong Kong Hep B Free Foundation
- Canadian Liver Foundation
- World Health Organization
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention