Safe and effective vaccines are available to provide protection against the hepatitis B virus (HBV). The active ingredient of these vaccines is the hepatitis B antigen. The vaccines may also contain small amounts of other ingredients.

Hepatitis B is a potentially life threatening liver infection that results from HBV. The virus is transmissible when blood, semen, or other bodily fluids from a person with the virus enters the body of a person who does not have it.

Hepatitis B can cause a variety of symptoms, including jaundice, fatigue, and vomiting.

While there is currently no cure for hepatitis B, vaccines can provide protection.

HBV causes hepatitis B. There has been a vaccine against HBV available in the United States since the 1980s. The vaccine protects people from infection and stops them from developing hepatitis B.

In this article, we discuss the ingredients in the hepatitis B vaccine as well as how it works and who should receive it.

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There are different hepatitis B vaccines. Apart from the active ingredient of antigens, each vaccine may contain slightly different ingredients.

Each vaccine will contain a few micrograms of hepatitis B antigens as the active ingredient. This is because the immune system uses these antigens to generate an immune response.

In addition to water, the vaccines may also contain very small amounts of the following ingredients:

  • aluminum, which helps strengthen and lengthen the immune response to the vaccine
  • formaldehyde, which scientists use to inactivate HBV
  • sodium borate, which is an acidity regulator
  • sodium chloride, which is also an acidity regulator
  • yeast proteins from the yeast scientists used to grow the hepatitis B antigens

All the combination vaccines for the hepatitis B vaccine have one or more antibiotics as ingredients.

The hepatitis B vaccines currently available in the United States are either single antigen vaccines or combination vaccines.

Single antigen vaccines just provide protection against hepatitis B. Combination vaccines can protect against multiple infections, not just hepatitis B. For example, Vaxelis is a combination vaccine that provides protection against hepatitis B and other infections, such as diphtheria and tetanus.

All of these vaccines use a specific piece of HBV, known as the antigen, to provide protection. By using this surface protein, the immune system can safely generate an immune response against HBV.

This provides a very strong immune response. It is suitable for most people, including those with weakened immune systems and chronic health conditions.

General guidelines recommend that all newborns complete the vaccine series during infancy. Children up to 18 years and most adults who have not completed the series, or whose vaccination status is not known, are also recommended to receive the vaccine.

Additionally, health experts recommend the vaccine for people at high risk of infection. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), this includes:

  • people who are sexually active
  • people whose sexual partners have hepatitis B
  • people seeking treatment for a sexually transmitted infection (STI)
  • people who have experienced sexual assault or abuse
  • males who have sex with other males
  • people who share needles, syringes, or other drug-injection equipment
  • people who live with a person who has hepatitis B
  • healthcare or public safety workers at risk of exposure to blood or bodily fluids
  • residents and staff of facilities for developmentally disabled people
  • people who are incarcerated
  • people who travel to regions with higher rates of hepatitis B
  • people with certain health conditions, such as:

While most people are suitable candidates for the vaccine, some people may experience a serious allergic reaction. People who have had a reaction to a previous dose of the vaccine, any part of the vaccine, or yeast should not receive the hepatitis B vaccine.

The hepatitis B vaccine is safe, effective, and the best way to prevent a hepatitis B infection. The World Health Organization (WHO) states that the vaccine can help provide 98–100% protection against hepatitis B.

To receive full protection, a person must receive all the shots in the series. A person will receive the vaccine in either a series of two, three, or four shots depending on the vaccine formula and their health requirements.

Like any vaccine or medication, people can have side effects from the hepatitis B vaccine. However, most people have no side effects. The most common side effects are usually mild and only last a couple of days. Common side effects may include:

  • soreness, redness, or swelling at the injection site
  • fever
  • headache

In rare cases, a person may experience a severe reaction to the vaccine. Symptoms can include:

  • hives
  • swelling of the face and throat
  • difficulty breathing
  • rapid heart rate
  • dizziness
  • weakness

If a person experiences these symptoms after a hepatitis B vaccine, they should receive immediate medical treatment.

Click here to learn more about the safety of the hepatitis B vaccine.

Hepatitis B is a liver infection that occurs from the hepatitis B virus. Vaccines are available to provide protection against infection.

At present, all hepatitis B vaccines contain hepatitis B antigens to help the immune system generate an immune response. In addition, some vaccines may also contain other ingredients, such as water, aluminum, salts, and yeast.