The hepatitis B vaccine protects against infection with the hepatitis B virus. A hepatitis B infection can damage the liver and lead to liver cancer.
Babies should get the hepatitis B vaccine. Infants get the first hepatitis B shot at birth. The second shot is given at 1 to 2 months of age. The third shot is most often given when the child is 6 to 18 months old.
Anyone 18 years of age or younger who has not had the hepatitis B shot should get 3 doses over a period of about 6 months.
If your child is exposed to hepatitis B before getting the vaccine, your child may need a hepatitis B immune globulin (HBIG) shot. This gives instant protection. The HBIG shot will prevent infection until the hepatitis B vaccine takes effect.
The vaccine may cause pain at the injection site. It can also cause a mild fever for a short time. Your child should not get this vaccine if they are allergic to baker's yeast. This is the kind of yeast used to make bread. Your child should not get a second or third dose if they had a bad reaction to the first shot.
Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.
How can you care for your child at home?
- You may give your child acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) for pain or fussiness, to help lower a fever, or if the area where the shot was given is sore. Do not use ibuprofen if your child is less than 6 months old unless the doctor gave you instructions to use it. Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
- Do not give a child two or more pain medicines at the same time unless the doctor told you to. Many pain medicines have acetaminophen, which is Tylenol. Too much acetaminophen (Tylenol) can be harmful.
- Do not give aspirin to anyone younger than 20. It has been linked to Reye syndrome, a serious illness.
- Put ice or a cold pack on the sore area for 10 to 20 minutes at a time. Put a thin cloth between the ice and your child's skin.
When should you call for help?
Call 911 anytime you think your child may need emergency care. For example, call if:
- Your child has a seizure.
- Your child has symptoms of a severe allergic reaction. These may include:
- Sudden raised, red areas (hives) all over the body.
- Swelling of the throat, mouth, lips, or tongue.
- Trouble breathing.
- Passing out (losing consciousness). Or your child may feel very lightheaded or suddenly feel weak, confused, or restless.
- Severe belly pain, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.
Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:
- Your child has symptoms of an allergic reaction, such as:
- A rash or hives (raised, red areas on the skin).
- Mild belly pain or nausea.
- Your child has a high fever.
- Your child cries for 3 hours or more within 2 to 3 days after getting the shot.
Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor if your child has any problems.
Where can you learn more?
Enter A314 in the search box to learn more about "Hepatitis B Vaccine for Children: Care Instructions".