Recombinant or genetically engineered Hepatitis B vaccine has been used since 1986. The component responsible for the immune response in vaccinated person leading to immunity is the modified Hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) produced by transforming yeast or mammalian cells. Hepatitis B vaccine is available as monovalent or in single form or as a combination vaccine, like pentavalent vaccine along with DTP and Hib vaccine. Hep B vaccine is mandatory in India.
How is Hepatitis B vaccine administered?
The vaccine is injected intramuscularly into the anterolateral aspect of the thigh (for infants and children aged less than 24 months) or into the deltoid muscle (for older children and adults). Hep B vaccine is not administered in the buttock, as this route is known to be providing decreased immune response and also causing injury to the sciatic nerve. The hepatitis B vaccine is safe and effective to be given with the other vaccines like BCG at birth, DTP, Hib and IPV. Multiple routine childhood vaccines should be given at different injection sites if not given as a combination vaccine.
Recommended dosage schedule of Hepatitis B:
- Monovalent Hepatitis B (HepB) Vaccine should be given as a birth dose to all the newborns within 48 hours of birth. No combination vaccine is used for the birth dose
- 2nd dose of HepB should be given at 6 weeks followed by a 3rd dose at 6 months of age
- Hep B combination (pentavalent) vaccine can be given in a 3 dose schedule at 6, 10 and 14 weeks after the monovalent HepB birth dose
- Infants who did not receive the birth dose should receive 3 doses of a Hep B containing vaccine as soon as possible (monovalent Hep B vaccine only should be given before the 4 weeks of age)
- Booster dose of hepatitis B vaccine is not required in persons who are given the full course of primary vaccinations following the recommended immunization schedule. However, a booster dose should be considered for immunocompromised patients, based on serological monitoring
Adults at high risk who can consider Hepatitis B vaccination?
The persons who are at increased risk of contracting HBV and can be vaccinated are:
- Illegal drug users who share needles
- Persons involved in sex with different partners
- Homosexual men
- Patients requiring frequent blood transfusions and hemodialysis (in end stage kidney ailment)
- Travelers to countries with high prevalence of HBV infection
- People in healthcare who are frequently exposed to blood or bodily fluids
Side effects of Hepatitis B Vaccine
Hep B vaccine is an extremely safe vaccine as per WHO. It may produce a very mild reaction like fever or allergy in rare cases.
Marketed Hepatitis B Products
Here is the list of WHO pre-qualified vaccine products available in market. Click on name of the product to know more.