Hepatitis B Vaccine

How effective is the hepatitis B vaccine?

The vaccine is almost 100% effective against the hepatitis B virus. Studies show good protection for over 20 years after vaccination. You cannot get a hepatitis B infection from the vaccine.

You can prevent hepatitis B by having your child vaccinated with the hepatitis B vaccine.

Who should get the hepatitis B vaccine?

Anyone of any age can get the hepatitis B vaccine.

Who should not get the hepatitis B vaccine?

You or your child should not get the hepatitis B vaccine if either of you have had a serious reaction to the hepatitis B vaccine in the past. Check with your health care provider if you or your child has ever had an allergic reaction to another vaccine, aluminum, yeast, latex, or formaldehyde. The risk of serious illness from the hepatitis B virus is much greater than the risk of complications from the hepatitis B vaccine.

Are there side effects from the vaccine?

The vaccine, used in Canada since 1982, is one of the safest vaccines around. It may cause minor side effects that can last a day or more, such as:

  • Redness, warmth, or slight swelling at the site of injection
  • Tiredness
  • Slight fever

Serious reactions are rare. These reactions may include: trouble breathing, swelling of face or mouth, fever over 39°C, hives, or a rash. Report them to your health care provider or local health unit if these reactions occur within 15 days of injection.

Provincially funded vaccine for adults

People of certain high risk categories are able to receive the provincially funded vaccine through our Health Unit. These categories include:

  • People who have someone in their household or a sexual partner who currently has the hepatitis B infection.
  • Drug users who share needles.
  • People with multiple sexual partners.
  • People diagnosed with hepatitis C.
  • People who have had a needle stick injury outside of the health care setting.

If you fall into any of these high risk categories, please call our sexual health clinic to book an appointment.

Provincially Funded vaccine for school aged children/youth

All students starting in Grade 7 can get the vaccine free from the Health Unit. The goal of the program is to vaccinate students against the hepatitis B virus while their risk of getting the virus is low.

If a student has previously completed a series of hepatitis B shots, further doses may or may not be needed.

For question about the hepatitis B vaccination program for Grade 7 students, please call our Vaccine Preventable Disease department at 519-258-2146 ext, 1222.

What if my child misses the hepatitis B shot at school?

The Health Unit provides Hepatitis B vaccine clinics at most school sites during the fall and spring for Grade 7 students. You can book an appointment to get your child's vaccine at the Health Unit should they miss it at school.

Can my child or I get the Hepatitis B shot at our family doctor’s?

Publicly-funded (free) hepatitis B vaccine is only available through the Health Unit until 16yrs of age. If given by the family doctor or at a clinic, you must pay for the vaccine. Up to three doses may be needed.

For further information, contact the Health Unit at 258-2146 ext. 1222.