Mary D. Nettleman, MD, MS, MACP is the Chair of the Department of Medicine at Michigan State University. She is a graduate of Vanderbilt Medical School, and completed her residency in Internal Medicine and a fellowship in Infectious Diseases at Indiana University.
There is a vaccine against the hepatitis B virus (Engerix-B, Recombivax HB). It is safe and works well to prevent the disease. A total of 3 doses of the vaccine are given over several months. Hepatitis B vaccine is also produced as a combination product which includes other
common childhood vaccinations. This can reduce the number of shots that a child needs at a single visit.
The following groups should be vaccinated for hepatitis B:
All children younger than 19 years, including all newborns - especially those born to mothers who are infected with HBV
All health care and public safety workers who may be exposed to blood
People who have hemophilia or other blood clotting disorders and receive transfusions of human clotting factors
Travelers to countries where HBV infection is common. This includes most areas of Africa, Southeast Asia, China and
Central Asia, Eastern Europe, the Middle East, the Pacific Islands, and the Amazon River basin of South America.
People who are in prison
People who live or work in residential facilities for developmentally disabled persons
People who inject illegal drugs
People with chronic liver disease such as hepatitis C
People who have multiple sex partners or have ever
had a sexually transmitted disease
Men who have sex with men
Persons with HIV
People who have a sexual partner who is an HBV carrier.
Household contacts of persons who are carriers of HBV.
Anyone who wants to be vaccinated, regardless of risk factors.
Hepatitis B immune globulin (BayHep B, Nabi-HB) is given along with the hepatitis B vaccine to unvaccinated people who have been exposed to hepatitis B.
These include close contacts of people with HBV infection, health care workers who are exposed to HBV-contaminated blood, and infants born to mothers infected with HBV.
Giving the immune globulin and the vaccine together in these situations prevents transmission of the disease in 80%
to 90% percent of cases.