What's the recommended hepatitis B vaccine schedule?
The hepatitis B vaccine schedule includes one shot at birth, one between 1 and 2 months, and one again at 6 months. The entire series should be completed by the time your child is 6 to 18 months old.
This vaccine is the first one your baby will receive in the hospital, usually within the first 12 hours of life. That's because an infected mother may expose her baby to hepatitis B virus during delivery, and getting the vaccine right away helps prevent the baby from contracting the disease. "The vaccine jump-starts your baby's immune system so your child can fight off the virus if he was exposed to it during birth," says Paul Offit, MD, chief of infectious diseases at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia in Pennsylvania and American Baby magazine advisory board member.
The hepatitis B vaccine is safe to be given along with other vaccines. It's also available in two combination shots. One is called PEDIARIX and contains the DTaP and polio vaccines. A second combination shot contains both the hepatitis A and B vaccines, but is currently only approved for adults over age 18.
Hepatitis B is also recommended for unvaccinated older children, as well as adults who face an increased risk of contracting the virus because of their jobs (healthcare workers, for example), traveling to countries where hepatitis B outbreaks are common, or engaging in risky behaviors.