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NC Department of Health and Human Services
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North Carolina Immunization Branch

Vaccine Preventable Diseases

Hepatitis B

The Disease

“Hepatitis” means inflammation of the liver. Toxins, certain drugs, some diseases, heavy alcohol use, and bacterial and viral infections can all cause hepatitis. Hepatitis is also the name of a family of viral infections that affect the liver; the most common types are Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, and Hepatitis C.¬† There are vaccines to protect against Hepatitis A and B.

Hepatitis B is a contagious liver disease that ranges in severity from a mild illness lasting a few weeks (acute) to a serious, lifelong illness (chronic).  Hepatitis B is spread when blood, semen, or other body fluid infected with the Hepatitis B virus enters the body of a person who is not infected.

The Vaccine

The Hepatitis B vaccine is safe and effective and is usually given in three to four shots over a six month period. Children should receive one dose at the following ages: birth, 1 to 2 months and 6 to 18 months.

Who Should get Vaccinated?

Hepatitis B vaccination is recommended for:

  • All infants, starting with the first dose of Hepatitis B vaccine at birth
  • All children and adolescents younger than 19 years of age who have not been vaccinated
  • People whose sex partners have Hepatitis B
  • Sexually active persons who are not in a long-term, mutually monogamous relationship
  • Persons seeking evaluation or treatment for a sexually transmitted disease
  • Men who have sexual contact with other men
  • People who share needles, syringes, or other drug-injection equipment
  • People who have close household contact with someone infected with the Hepatitis B virus
  • Health care and public safety workers at risk for exposure to blood or blood-contaminated body fluids on the job
  • People with end-stage renal disease, including predialysis, hemodialysis, peritoneal dialysis, and home dialysis patients
  • Residents and staff of facilities for developmentally disabled persons
  • Travelers to regions with moderate or high rates of Hepatitis B external link
  • People with chronic liver disease
  • People with HIV infection
  • Anyone who wishes to be protected from Hepatitis B virus infection

North Carolina Requirements

Children in North Carolina are required to receive three doses of Hepatitis B vaccine.

Additional Resources:

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