Hepatitis B is an infection of the liver that can cause flu-like symptoms and liver failure, and can be fatal. It is spread through contact with infected blood or body fluids - for example, through sexual intercourse or sharing needles.
Hepatitis B occurs worldwide but, in particular, it may be found in Eastern Europe, Russia, India, China, South and Central America, Africa, South East Asia, and many of the South Pacific islands.
Those at higher risk of exposure include healthcare workers and those who participate in risk behaviour such as needle sharing and unprotected sex. Travellers who receive medical or dental treatment and children (from cuts and scratches) may also be at risk of exposure.
The hepatitis B vaccine is recommended for travellers in high risk areas who: have unprotected sex, inject drugs, do relief work, or work in a medical setting or intend to have a tattoo, piercing, partake in a contact sport or undergo acupuncture.
Travellers should be aware that taking the above precautions against Hepatitis B virus will also help to prevent other blood borne viruses, such as HIV and hepatitis C, for which there are no available vaccines.
Several different course schedules are available for Hepatitis B. For full protection, you will need at least three injections of Hepatitis B vaccine over a period of four to six months. An accelerated course can be given over 28 days. However, a booster dose is then recommendedStandard Course - 0, at least 1 month later and then 5 months later after that. Rapid Course - 0, 1 month, 2months, 12 months later Very Rapid Course - 0, 7 days, 21 days and 12 months later. Children under 16 should be advised by the doctor for effective course schedules. The Hepatitis B vaccine can be given from birth.
Hepatitis B is available as part of a combined vaccine - Hepatitis A & B. However, the Combined Hep A & B Adult Vaccine is not advised for those under 16 years of age. A Paediatric version is available for those aged between 1 - 15 years of age.
After having the Hepatitis B vaccine, some people develop temporary soreness and redness at the injection site. Severe reactions are rare.
Other than some redness and soreness at the site of the infection, side effects to the vaccine£are rare. However, details of possible side effects and special precautions should be discussed during the appointment.
Please be aware that for full immunity some vaccination courses, with more than one vaccine required, may take up to a month or longer. Please, also be aware that many vaccinations will not become fully effective until weeks after the course completion. It is strongly advised that you leave plenty of time to complete the course before your trip. Intervals between different vaccines or doses are recommended, which allows time for antibodies to be produced and any reaction to the vaccine to subside.
The above information should only be used as a guide and is not a substitute for medical advice. All vaccinations are only carried out following a Travel Risk Assessment and Consultation. The brand of vaccine we supply may also vary depending on the current supply status of a particular vaccine.
In order for us to assess the most appropriate vaccines please complete our Travel Risk Assessment.
Please call the number below for more information or to book an appointment at any one of our GP clinics.
Our admin hours are 08:30 to 17:00. Outside of these hours you can send us a message or request a callback.
The Independent General Practice