Te rongoā āraimate mate ate kakā momo B Hepatitis B vaccines

Hepatitis B vaccines are given as routine childhood vaccines on the national immunisation schedule, to babies born to someone with hepatitis B, or to people at high risk of hepatitis B, or to people travelling to some areas.

What the hepatitis B vaccines protects you from

Hepatitis B is a very contagious viral disease that attacks the liver. Hepatitis B can cause a short or a long-term illness.

Long-term hepatitis B can show no symptoms. But, it can lead to liver damage (cirrhosis), liver cancer or death.

Hepatitis B is particularly dangerous for young tamariki.

The best way to protect yourself against hepatitis B is by getting immunised.

Find out more about hepatitis B symptoms, spread and treatment.

Hepatitis B

Who should get hepatitis B vaccines

There are different vaccines against hepatitis B depending on your age and situation. Some of these vaccines are free and some are recommended and come at a cost.

Routine scheduled immunisations

Tamariki are offered 3 doses of the diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, polio, hepatitis B, and hib vaccine. This is a combined vaccine that protects against hepatitis B as well as other diseases.

This is given for free as part of the National Immunisation Schedule when tamariki are:

  • 6 weeks old
  • 3 months old
  • 5 months old.

Anyone under 18 is eligible to get the HepB vaccine anytime if they have missed any or all of their 3 doses.

Babies born to someone with hepatitis B

If you are pregnant, it is important to get tested early in pregnancy for hepatitis B. This is part of standard antenatal blood tests.

Pēpi (babies) born to someone who has hepatitis B need the HepB vaccine (Engerix-B) and Hep B immunoglobulin (HBIG). They need this as soon as possible after birth. This vaccine is free.

Pēpi also need this treatment if they are born to someone whose hepatitis B status is unknown.

They can then continue with their routine childhood immunisations.

At 9 months old, pēpi need to have a blood test to check they have good levels of immunity and to see if they need further immunisations. Some pēpi might need further immunisation.

Close contacts of hepatitis B

Close contacts of someone with hepatitis B are eligible for a free HepB vaccine (Engerix-B).

This includes:

  • household contacts
  • sexual contacts
  • after a needle-stick injury.

People with weakened immune systems

People with weakened or suppressed immune systems are eligible for the free HepB vaccine (Engerix-B). This includes:

  • people who are HIV positive
  • people with hepatitis C
  • before or after planned immunosuppression
  • after a solid organ transplant
  • before or after liver or kidney transplants
  • people on dialysis.

Your healthcare provider will know if you are eligible for this vaccine.

Other recommended groups (not funded)

Immunisation is recommended, but not free, for people with an increased risk of getting hepatitis B. This includes:

  • people getting tested or treated for a sexually transmitted infection
  • people with a high number of sexual partners
  • people who have sex with sex workers
  • men who have sex with men
  • people with haemophilia and others who receive regular blood products
  • people with developmental disabilities
  • current or prior injectable drug users
  • prison inmates
  • migrants from countries with a high rate of hepatitis B
  • people who may come into contact with hepatitis B at work — for example, tattooists or healthcare, childcare, prison, police, emergency or sewage workers.

People travelling to specific countries

We recommend you get immunised if you are planning travel to countries with a higher risk of hepatitis B. There is a cost for this.

Make sure you allow enough time to get all vaccine doses before you travel.

List of destinations — Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (external link)

Talk to your healthcare provider or a travel vaccine provider more information.

Book your hepatitis b vaccine

Your healthcare provider will let you know if you need a hepatitis B vaccine. Find out how to book an appointment or catchup on missed vaccines.

Which hepatitis B vaccine is used

There are 3 different vaccines for hepatitis B.

For tamariki

Diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, polio, hepatitis B, and Haemophilus influenzae type b (hib) vaccine — Infanrix-Hexa.

Find out more about each on the medsafe website.

Infanrix-hexa — Medsafe (PDF 155KB) (external link)

For high-risk or recommended people

HepB vaccine — Energix-B

Find out more about each on the medsafe website:

Engerix-B — Medsafe (PDF 51KB) (external link)

For travel

Talk to your healthcare provider or a travel vaccine provider to find out your immunisation options for travel.

Side effects and reactions

Like most medicines, vaccines can sometimes cause reactions. These are usually mild, and not everyone will get them.

Mild reactions are normal and shows that your immune system is responding to the vaccine.

If you are going to have any reactions, they normally happen in the first few days after getting vaccinated. The vaccine itself is gone from your body within a few hours or days.

The most common reaction to an immunisation includes:

  • a slight fever
  • pain, redness or swelling where the needle went in.

Common reactions

Common reactions of the hepatitis B vaccines include:

  • nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite
  • runny poos (diarrhoea)
  • headache
  • tiredness
  • irritability.

Allergic reactions

Serious allergic reactions are extremely rare. Only about 1 in 1 million people will experience this.

Your vaccinator is well-trained and knows what to look for. They can treat an allergic reaction quickly if it happens.

Serious allergic reactions normally happen within the first few minutes of immunisation. This is why you need to wait for up to 20 minutes after immunisation.

More information

Find more information about common side effects, what to look for and how to report side effects.

Vaccine side effects, reactions and safety (external link)

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