What is a hepatitis B vaccine?
A hepatitis B vaccine prevents hepatitis B virus infection (HBV). Engerix-B, Heplisav-B, and Recombivax HB (all brand names) are examples of hepatitis B vaccines approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Engerix-B and Recombivax HB are both approved for use in people of all ages. Heplisav-B is approved for use in adults 18 years of age and older.
HBV can be an opportunistic infection (OI) of HIV. An OI is an infection that occurs more frequently or is more severe in people with weakened immune systems—such as people with HIV—than in people with healthy immune systems. To learn more about OIs, read the HIVinfo What is an Opportunistic Infection? fact sheet. To learn how HIV and HBV infection are connected, read the HIVinfo HIV and Hepatitis B fact sheet.
The Guidelines for the Prevention and Treatment of Opportunistic Infections in Adults and Adolescents with HIV and the Guidelines for the Prevention and Treatment of Opportunistic Infections in Children with and Exposed to HIV include recommendations on the use of hepatitis B vaccines in people with HIV.
What should I tell my health care provider before receiving a hepatitis B vaccine?
Before receiving a hepatitis B vaccine, tell your health care provider:
- If you are allergic to yeast or any other ingredient in a hepatitis B vaccine; latex; or any medicines. Tell your health care provider if you have ever had any reactions to a previous dose of a hepatitis B vaccine.
- About any medical conditions you have or have had.
- About any health conditions that may prevent you from receiving medicine by injection.
- If you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. Talk to your health care provider about the risks and benefits of getting a hepatitis B vaccine during pregnancy. The Guidelines for the Prevention and Treatment of Opportunistic Infections in Adults and Adolescents with HIV may include other recommendations on hepatitis B vaccination during pregnancy. Please refer to these guidelines for additional information.
- If you are breast/chestfeeding or plan to breast/chestfeed. For people with HIV in the United States, the Guideline recommends speaking with your health care provider to discuss options for feeding your baby. People with suppressed viral load have a less than 1% chance of transmitting HIV to their baby via their own milk.
- About other prescription and nonprescription medicines, vitamins, nutritional supplements, and herbal products you are taking or plan to take. Hepatitis B vaccines may affect the way other medicines or products work, and other medicines or products may affect how hepatitis B vaccines work. Ask your health care provider if there are interactions between hepatitis B vaccines and the medicines you take.
Ask your health care provider about possible side effects from getting a hepatitis B vaccine. Your health care provider will tell you what to do if you have side effects.
How is a hepatitis B vaccine given?
A health care provider gives the hepatitis B vaccine. The vaccine is given as a shot injected into a muscle, usually in the arm for adults and children older than 1 year and in the thigh for infants and children younger than 1 year. Vaccination with a hepatitis B vaccine is usually given as a series of injections over a period of time, depending on the specific brand of the vaccine. Read any printed information that your health care provider gives you about the hepatitis B vaccine.
Where can I find more information about hepatitis B vaccines?
- Recommendations on the use of hepatitis B vaccines in people living with HIV, from the Guidelines for the Prevention and Treatment of Opportunistic Infections in Adults and Adolescents with HIV and the Guidelines for the Prevention and Treatment of Opportunistic Infections in Children with and Exposed to HIV.
- This Patient Version drug summary is based on the following FDA label(s): Engerix-B injection (suspension); Recombivax HB injection (suspension); Heplisav-B injection (solution). The Patient Counseling Information section of the label includes information for people receiving a hepatitis B vaccine.
- The American Hospital Formulary Service (AHFS) Patient Medication Information for hepatitis B vaccine available from MedlinePlus.
- Research studies related to the hepatitis B vaccines from ClinicalTrials.gov. (The ClinicalTrials.gov search can be modified so that you can get results that better match your interests. To learn more about the ClinicalTrials.gov search features, please see How to Search.)
Last Reviewed: September 21, 2021