Hepatitis B Vaccine Side Effects

Hepatitis B is a liver disease caused by a virus. The hepatitis B virus spreads through bodily fluids in sexual contact, through blood transfusion or by sharing needles with an infected person. The infection can also be passed on by a mother to a baby during childbirth. However, the disease can be prevented by getting a hepatitis B vaccine which exposes you to small amounts of the virus and helps your body to develop immunity. But are there any hepatitis B vaccine side effects?

Hepatitis B Vaccine Side Effects

Like any other medication, this vaccine has its benefits and side effects. You must remember, however, that its benefits outweigh its disadvantages. Here are the known side effects of hepatitis B vaccine that you must be aware of:

Emergent Side Effects

If you experience these side effects after your vaccination, call your doctor immediately:

  • Ÿ   High fever (37.7 °C or 100 °F) or higher
  • Ÿ   Joint pains
  • Ÿ   Skin rash or hives
  • Ÿ   Blurred vision or other vision changes
  • Ÿ   Confusion
  • Ÿ   Dizziness, faintness or lightheadedness
  • Ÿ   Sweating
  • Ÿ   Itching of the feet and hands
  • Ÿ   Muscle weakness
  • Ÿ   Numbness/tingling of arms and legs
  • Ÿ   Swelling of the eyes, face or nose
  • Ÿ   Difficulty breathing or swallowing
  • Ÿ   Sudden, severe unusual tiredness/weakness

General Side Effects

Some hepatitis B vaccine side effects do not need immediate treatment. These may go away as you adjust to the medicine. Your doctor may also advise you on how to prevent/reduce these side effects. Consult your doctor if these side effects do not get better or if they get worse:


Increased sweating

Stomach cramps

Back pain




Muscle aches/pain

Swollen glands



General feeling of illness

Decreased appetite

Difficulty with moving

Trouble sleeping


Purple spot on the skin

Unusual drowsiness

Neck and shoulder pain or stiffness

General tenderness or swelling

Unusual tiredness or weakness

Feeling of warmth

Hard lump

Weight loss

Fever, headache, sore throat and runny nose

Redness or soreness of the injection site

Redness of the face, neck, chest and arms

Side Effects in Children

Your child can also get hepatitis B vaccine side effects. If he/she experiences an allergic reaction, call your doctor immediately. Signs and symptoms of allergies include hives, swelling of the face, tongue, lips or throat as well asdifficulty breathing.

Serious side effects also include:

  • Ÿ   Changes in behavior
  • Ÿ   Fever
  • Ÿ   Fussiness
  • Ÿ   Irritability
  • Ÿ   Prolonged crying
  • Ÿ   Unusual muscle weakness

Other common side effects include:

  • Ÿ   Diarrhea
  • Ÿ   General ill feeling
  • Ÿ   Loss of appetite
  • Ÿ   Low fever
  • Ÿ   Nausea
  • Ÿ   Redness, pain, swelling or a lump on the injection site
  • Ÿ   Runny nose
  • Ÿ   Tiredness

How Is Hepatitis B Vaccine Scheduled?

Schedule for Adults

For full protection against hepatitis B infection, you will need to receive three doses of the hepatitis B vaccine. After the first dose, you will get the second dose after one month. The third dose is given after five months from the second dose.

A blood testmay be done one to four months after the last dose if you are at risk of hepatitis B infection at work or if you have some kidney disease. This test will check if your body has been able to produce antibodies which are proteins that protect you against the virus. Presence of these antibodies shows that you are immune to infection.

A booster dose of the vaccine may be given to you after another five years. The blood test does not have to be repeated before or after the vaccine.

Another type of vaccine which combines hepatitis A and B protection is also available. It is given at the same schedule as the Hepatitis B vaccine.

Schedule for Children

Like adults, children will receive three Hepatitis B vaccine shots. These shots may be given at birth, between the first and second months or between 6th and 18th month.

In the United States, pregnant women are screened for hepatitis B. If your test is positive, doctors will recommend that your baby should get a shot of hepatitis B vaccine and HBIG (hepatitis B immune globulin) within 12 hours after birth to give them short-term protection.

When Should You Avoid Hepatitis B Vaccine?

To avoid hepatitis B vaccine side effects, you need to know when you must avoid getting the vaccine. Minor illnesses like colds are not an absolute contraindication for getting the vaccine. However, it is best to postpone your vaccination if you have a severe illness with fever or infection. You should avoid the vaccine if you have:

  • Bleeding disorder or blood clotting disorder like hemophilia
  • History of seizures
  • Kidney disease
  • Latex allergy
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Neurologic/brain disorder
  • Use of blood thinner like warfarin (Coumadin)
  • Weakened immune system caused by disease, bone marrow transplant or certain medicines or cancer treatments

It is not known if hepatitis B vaccine side effects will influence an unborn baby. Inform your doctor if you plan to become pregnant or are pregnant before getting a hepatitis B vaccine. There are no studies that show hepatitis B vaccine passing into breast milk or harming a baby during lactation. Inform your doctor if you are breastfeeding a babybeforereceiving the vaccine.

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