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AIDSinfo Drug Database

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Hepatitis B Vaccine  Audio icon

Other Names: Engerix-B, HBV vaccine, Recombivax HB, hepatitis B vaccine, hepatitis B vaccine (recombinant)
Drug Class: Opportunistic Infections and Coinfections

What is a hepatitis B vaccine?

A hepatitis B vaccine protects against hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection infection, a serious disease that damages the liver. The vaccine is given as a shot. Examples of hepatitis B vaccines approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to prevent HBV infection include Engerix-B and Recombivax HB (both brand names).

HBV infection is an HIV-related opportunistic infection. An opportunistic infection is an infection that occurs more frequently or is more severe in people with weakened immune systems—such as those infected with HIV—than in people with healthy immune systems.

The Guidelines for the Prevention and Treatment of Opportunistic Infections in HIV-Infected Adults and Adolescents, prepared by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the HIV Medicine Association of the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA-HIVMA), includes recommendations on the use of hepatitis B vaccines in HIV-infected individuals.

What should I tell my health care provider before receiving a hepatitis B vaccine?

Before receiving a hepatitis B vaccine, tell your health care provider:

  • If you are allergic to yeast, any other ingredient in a hepatitis B vaccine, or any medicines. Tell your health care provider if you have ever had any reactions to a previous hepatitis B vaccine.
  • About any medical conditions you have or have had, for example, diabetes or liver problems.
  • If you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. Whether hepatitis B vaccines can harm an unborn baby is unknown, and the vaccine should be given to a pregnant woman only if clearly needed. Talk to your health care provider about possible risks with getting a hepatitis B vaccine when pregnant.
  • If you are breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed. Do not breastfeed if you are infected with HIV.
  • About other prescription and nonprescription medicines, vitamins, nutritional supplements, and herbal products you are taking or plan to take. Hepatitis B vaccines may affect the way other medicines or products work, and other medicines or products may affect how hepatitis B vaccines work. Ask your health care provider if there are interactions between hepatitis B vaccines and the medicines you take.

Ask your health care provider about possible side effects from receiving a hepatitis B vaccine. Your health care provider will tell you what to do if you have side effects.

How is a hepatitis B vaccine given?

A health care provider gives the hepatitis B vaccine. The vaccine is injected into a muscle, usually in the arm for adults and children older than 1 year and in the thigh for infants and children younger than 1 year. Vaccination with a hepatitis B vaccine is usually given as a series of two, three, or four vaccine shots over a 4- to 6-month period, depending on the specific brand of the vaccine. Read any printed information that your health care provider gives you about the hepatitis B vaccine.

Where can I find more information about hepatitis B vaccines?

More information about hepatitis B vaccines is available:

The above Patient Version drug summary is based on the following FDA label(s): Engerix-B injection (suspension); Recombivax HB injection (suspension).

Last Reviewed: April 23, 2015

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