Consider the hepatitis B vaccine

The hepatitis B vaccine is typically given as a series of three or four injections over a period of six months. You can't get hepatitis B from the vaccine.

The hepatitis B vaccine is recommended for:

  • All infants, beginning at birth
  • All children and adolescents who weren't vaccinated at birth
  • Anyone being treated for a sexually transmitted infection
  • Developmentally disabled people who live in an institutional setting
  • Health care workers, emergency workers and other people who come into contact with blood on the job
  • Anyone infected with HIV
  • Men who have sex with men
  • People who have multiple sexual partners
  • People with chronic liver disease
  • People who inject illicit drugs
  • People who live with someone who has hepatitis B
  • People with end-stage kidney disease
  • Sexual partners of someone who has hepatitis B
  • Travelers planning to go to an area of the world with a high hepatitis B infection rate

Take precautions to avoid HBV

Other ways to reduce your risk of HBV include:

  • Know the HBV status of any sexual partner. Don't engage in unprotected sex unless you're absolutely certain your partner isn't infected with HBV or any other sexually transmitted infection.
  • Use a new latex or polyurethane condom every time you have sex. If you don't know the health status of your partner, use a new latex condom every time you have sexual contact. Remember that although condoms can reduce your risk of contracting HBV, they don't eliminate the risk entirely. Condoms can break or develop small tears, and people don't always use them properly.
  • Stop using illicit drugs. If you use illicit drugs, get help to stop. If you can't stop, use a sterile needle each time you inject illicit drugs. Never share needles.
  • Be cautious about body piercing and tattooing. If you choose to undergo piercing or tattooing, look for a reputable shop. Ask questions beforehand about how the equipment is cleaned. Make sure the employees use sterile needles. If the staff won't answer your questions, look for another shop.
  • Ask about the hepatitis B vaccine before you travel. If you're planning an extended trip to a region where hepatitis B is more common, ask your doctor about the hepatitis B vaccine well in advance. It's usually given in a series of three injections over a six-month period.
Sep. 01, 2011