Do Hepatitis B Vaccines Have Side Effects?

Hepatitis B, which is a serious or severe liver infection, is caused by the hepatitis B virus (HBV). The symptoms of Hepatitis B include but not limited to the following:

  • Loss of appetite;
  • Tiredness;
  • Jaundice;
  • Diarrhea;
  • Pain;
  • Vomiting;
  • Liver damage;
  • Liver cancer;
  • And ultimately, death.

It is important to know that the best way to prevent hepatitis B is simply by getting vaccinated. Hepatitis B vaccine is a series of 3 or 4 shots. Other ways one can employ to avoid getting or spreading hepatitis B to others include, but not limited to the following:

  • Usage of condoms when having sex;
  • Avoiding common use of needles, razors, and other sharp objects;
  • Using sterilized needles, clippers and other sharp objects;
  • Wearing of latex or rubber gloves before touching blood; and
  • Sole usage of toothbrushes.

Since the best way to prevent hepatitis B is by getting vaccinated, a consideration of hepatitis B vaccines is necessary to enhance our overall knowledge of the condition. Vaccines for hepatitis B are surprisingly made from the non-infectious parts of the hepatitis B virus using recombinant deoxyribonucleic (DNA) technology.

Hepatitis B vaccines are so potent that they provide immunity from future infections. Hepatitis B vaccines work by stimulating the immune system to fight the viral proteins that cause the virus. It should be noted that hepatitis B vaccines do not protect one from contracting other virus infections like Hepatitis A,  Hepatitis C, Hepatitis E, and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS)

The available hepatitis B vaccines are:

  • Recombivax HB
  • Engerix – B

Recombivax HB

This hepatitis B vaccine is genetically made from a dead part of the hepatitis virus. Since it does not contain live viruses, one cannot contract hepatitis B from the vaccine. Recombivax HB works by aiding the body to produce a shield or immunity through the production of antibodies that prevents one from being infected by the hepatitis virus.

How to Use Recombivax HB

The age, medical condition, and risk of hepatitis B exposure are determinant factors that are usually considered in the dosage and vaccination administration of Recombivax HB. It is usually administered by injection into the muscle (thigh or shoulder). Recombivax works for children, adolescents, and adults.

Side Effects of Recombivax HB

The usual and common side effects of Recombivax HB include the following:

  • Fever
  • A sore throat
  • Tiredness
  • Nausea
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Runny nose
  • Irritability
  • Injection site reactions which include (swelling, redness, soreness, & pain)
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite

Other side effects that are not usual but may occur immediately the injection is administered are

  • Dizziness
  • Weakness
  • Lightheadedness
  • Numbness
  • Fainting

At this juncture, it is of utmost importance to note that this list of side effects is not exhaustive and other side effects may occur.

Engerix – B

This is the second Hepatitis B virus prevention vaccine. Unlike Recombivax HB that prevents the virus in children, adolescents and adults, Engerix – B prevent Hepatitis B in adults only. This vaccine works by leaving the body open to a small amount of the virus, which then causes the body to advance immunity to the Hepatitis B virus. It is pertinent to note at this point that Engerix – B will not treat an infection that has already taken root or that has actively developed in the body.

Engerix – B vaccination is recommended for all adults who are at risk of contracting the killer virus. A person is said to be at risk of contracting Hepatitis B if the person:

  • Has more than one sex partner;
  • Is a homosexual male;
  • Have sexual contact with persons infected with hepatitis B;
  • Has chronic liver disease;
  • Has diabetes and is under 60 years of age;
  • Has HIV/AIDS;
  • Lives with a person or persons who have the virus;
  • Is exposed to human blood; or
  • Receives blood transfusion.

How to Administer Engerix – B

Engerix – B is administered in a series of shots as an intramuscular injection into a muscle (thigh or shoulder). After the first shot of the series, the second shot or booster shots are given 1 month, and then 6 months later. If the risk of infection of Hepatitis B is high, the person may be given an additional booster 1 to 2 months after the third shot.

Side Effects of Engerix – B

The usual side effects of Engerix – B include:

  • Headaches
  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Tiredness
  • Irritability
  • Injection site reactions (pain, soreness, redness, and swelling)
  • A sore throat
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Dizziness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Muscle pain
  • A runny nose
  • Chills
  • A cough

Other infrequent or temporary side effects are:

  • Fainting
  • Lightheadedness
  • Vision changes
  • Numbness

In the end, just like with most medications, the side effects do not limit the potency of the vaccines and are just temporary. Considering the world of good such vaccines offer at present and well into the future, no one should run away or prevent their children from these shots when the time comes.