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Hepatitis B vaccine : what you need to know
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  • Description:
    1. What is hepatitis B? – 2. Hepatitis B vaccine: why get vaccinated? – 3. Who should get hepatitis B vaccine and when? -- 4. Who should not get hepatitis B vaccine? -- 5. What are the risks from hepatitis B vaccine? -- 6. What if there is a serious reaction? -- 7. The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program -- 8. How can I learn more?

    Hepatitis B is a serious infection that affects the liver. It is caused by the hepatitis B virus.

    • In 2009, about 38,000 people became infected with

    hepatitis B.

    • Each year about 2,000 to 4,000 people die in the United

    States from cirrhosis or liver cancer caused by hepatitis B.

    Hepatitis B can cause:

    Acute (short-term) illness. This can lead to:

    • loss of appetite • diarrhea and vomiting

    • tiredness • jaundice (yellow skin or eyes) • pain in muscles, joints, and stomach

    Acute illness, with symptoms, is more common among adults. Children who become infected usually do not have symptoms.

    Chronic (long-term) infection. Some people go on to develop chronic hepatitis B infection. Most of them do not have symptoms, but the infection is still very serious, and can lead to:

    • liver damage (cirrhosis) • liver cancer • death

    Chronic infection is more common among infants and children than among adults. People who are chronically infected can spread hepatitis B virus to others, even if they don’t look or feel sick. Up to 1.4 million people in the United States may have chronic hepatitis B infection.

    Hepatitis B virus is easily spread through contact with the blood or other body fluids of an infected person. People can also be infected from contact with a contaminated object, where the virus can live for up to 7 days.

    • A baby whose mother is infected can be infected at birth;

    • Children, adolescents, and adults can become infected


    - contact with blood and body fluids through breaks in

    the skin such as bites, cuts, or sores;

    - contact with objects that have blood or body fluids on

    them such as toothbrushes, razors, or monitoring and

    treatment devices for diabetes;

    - having unprotected sex with an infected person;

    - sharing needles when injecting drugs;

    - being stuck with a used needle.

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