Description

Vaccination is the best protection against hepatitis B and its complications.

Hepatitis A and hepatitis B are liver infections caused by 2 different viruses: the hepatitis A virus and the hepatitis B virus. The vaccine is very effective in preventing both infections.

The vaccine is indicated for anyone who wants to reduce their risk of getting hepatitis B.

Québec’s immunization schedule provides for the administration of a combined hepatitis B vaccine at 2 and 4 months of age. Since June 1, 2019, one dose of the hepatitis A and B vaccine has also been given at 18 months of age. The hepatitis A and B vaccine has been offered in school since 2013. The school-based immunization program will continue until children born before June 1, 2019 have reached the age of Grade 4 of primary school.

Number of doses required

Depending on the person’s age, 2 or 3 doses of the vaccine are required to ensure the best possible protection.

For people aged 1 to 19, 2 doses of the hepatitis B vaccine are enough to ensure effective protection. Everyone else will need 3 doses of the vaccine.

Duration of protection

In healthy people, protection will last a very long time, probably for life.

Symptoms after vaccination

Some symptoms may be caused by the vaccine, e.g. redness at the injection site.

Other problems may occur by chance and are not related to the vaccine, e.g. cold, gastro, headache.

Hepatitis B vaccine is safe. In most cases, it does not cause any reaction.

The Nature and Frequency of Possible Reactions to Vaccine
FrequencyPossible reactions to the vaccine

Often
(less than 10% of people)

  • Pain, redness and swelling at the infection site
  • Headache, digestive problems, dizziness, fatigue

The hepatitis B vaccine has been used for over 20 years and millions of doses have been administered worldwide. According to current scientific data, no serious or unexpected problems are associated with this vaccine. No link has been found between this vaccine and certain serious diseases or deaths.

As for all immunization programs, the Ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux monitors the side effects of the hepatitis B vaccine under the Programme de surveillance passive des effets secondaires possiblement reliés à l’immunisation (ESPRI) (Passive surveillance program used to monitor possible vaccine-related side effects).

What to do after vaccination

Tips to follow immediately following vaccination

Wait 15 minutes before leaving premises where vaccine is received. If an allergic reaction occurs, the symptoms will appear a few minutes after the vaccination.

If you feel side effects, immediately inform the person giving the vaccine. That person will be able to treat you immediately.

Tips to follow at home

If you experience redness, pain or swelling at the injection site, apply a cold, damp compress on it.

Use medication for fever or discomfort if needed.

When to seek medical help

See a doctor if one of the following applies to you:

  • You experience serious and unusual symptoms
  • Your symptoms get worse instead of improving
  • Your symptoms last over 48 hours