According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), vaccine-preventable childhood diseases in the United States are near an all-time low. But, some viruses and bacteria are still active and can cause serious illness. It is important that all children, especially infants and young children, receive recommended immunizations on time. In other countries, many vaccine-preventable diseases are relatively common. Because of travel, these diseases could return to the US, resulting in increased, and unnecessary, illness, disability, and death among children.
What is hepatitis B vaccine?
Immunizations start at birth. The first immunization given is the hepatitis B vaccine. Listed below are some facts about hepatitis B:
- Hepatitis B is a disease of the liver caused by hepatitis B virus.
- Potentially, there may not be any symptoms present when first infected (the likelihood of early symptoms decreases with the person's age); if present: yellow skin or eyes, tiredness, stomach ache, loss of appetite, nausea, or joint pain may occur.
- The younger the person is when infected with hepatitis B, the greater the likelihood of staying infected and having life-long liver problems, such as scarring of the liver and liver cancer.
- The disease is spread through contact with the blood of an infected person or by having sex with an infected person.
Hepatitis B vaccine will prevent this disease. This vaccine is given to nearly all newborns. Additional doses are given before the age of 18 months. If newborns are exposed to hepatitis B before, during, or after birth, both the vaccine and a special hepatitis B immune globulin dose are given within 12 hours of birth. The other two doses of the vaccine are also given before the age of 18 months.
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