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Viral Hepatitis

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Should you get the hepatitis B vaccine?

for Veterans and the Public

Should you get the hepatitis B vaccine?

You may need the vaccination against hepatitis B if you have not previously been vaccinated against hepatitis B AND you have any of the following reasons for receiving the vaccination:

  • Chronic hepatitis C
  • Alcoholic hepatitis
  • Liver cirrhosis or liver fibrosis
  • Other chronic liver disease
  • Awaiting or received liver transplant
  • Findings consistent with liver disease (such as esophageal varices)
  • HIV infection
  • Use of injection drugs currently or in the past
  • Have a sex partner who has hepatitis B
  • Have had more than one sex partner in the past 6 months
  • Men who have sex with men
  • Share a household with someone who has chronic hepatitis B
  • Travel to countries with high or intermediate rates of hepatitis B infection (there are high rates of hepatitis B in China and other parts of Asia, in the Amazon, and in the southern parts of eastern and central Europe; there are intermediate rates of hepatitis B in the Middle East and Indian subcontinent)
  • Reside or work in a prison or correctional facility
  • People with end-stage renal disease including patients receiving dialysis
  • People who are seeking evaluation or treatment for a sexually transmitted disease (STD)
  • Work in a high-risk profession with reasonable anticipation of risk of exposure to blood or body fluids, such as:
    • Health care centers
    • Dialysis centers
    • Emergency response or firefighting
    • Law enforcement
    • Military
  • Clients and staff in the following settings:
    • Institutions and non-residential daycare facilities for persons with developmental disabilities
    • STD treatment facilities
    • HIV testing and treatment facilities
    • Facilities providing drug-abuse treatment and prevention
    • Health care settings that target services to injection-drug users or men who have sex with men
    • Facilities for chronic hemodialysis patients
  • Persons aged 19-59 who have diabetes mellitus SHOULD receive the vaccination. Persons aged 60 and older who have diabetes mellitus MAY receive the vaccination, and should discuss it with their health care providers.

Certain ethnic groups have higher rates of hepatitis B virus infection. You may need the vaccination if you are African American, Latino, Native American, Haitian, Alaskan Native, Vietnamese, Chinese, Korean, or Filipino.

Patients with the following conditions should discuss hepatitis B vaccination with their doctor: pregnancy, immunocompromising conditions, diabetes, heart disease, chronic lung disease, asplenia, chronic alcoholism.

Should pregnant or breast-feeding women receive the hepatitis B vaccination?

Pregnancy is not a contraindication to vaccination. Some data suggest that developing fetuses are not at risk of adverse events when hepatitis B vaccine is administered to pregnant women.