The hepatitis B vaccine offers your child protection against hepatitis B, a serious disease that can damage the liver. Hepatitis B is caused by a virus that is found in blood and body fluids. It can be spread through direct contact with blood, blood transfusions, needle sharing, sexual intercourse, breast-feeding, getting a tattoo, sharing toothbrushes or razors, or from mother to baby during pregnancy or birth.
About half of people who get hepatitis B will develop a fever, poor appetite, fatigue, and yellow skin or eyes. These symptoms can last for weeks or months. The other half and most children who get hepatitis B will not show symptoms. Although most people recover from this illness, some people go on to carry the virus in their body for life - they are called carriers. Carriers have a higher risk of liver disease, liver failure, and liver cancer, and may even need a liver transplant. They can also spread hepatitis B to others.
The number and timing of hepatitis B vaccine doses depends on where you live. Most infants and children receive 3 doses of the hepatitis B vaccine. Each province or territory has slightly different recommendations on when vaccine doses should be given. See the immunization schedule for your province or territory, or talk to your child's health care professional to find out when your child should receive their doses.Remember that it is very important for your child to receive all doses on time for maximum protection.
The hepatitis B vaccine is not intended to be used for treatment of active infection. As with other vaccines, this vaccine may not protect 100% of people, and it may cause side effects.