Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier
WebMD

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine
WebMD

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion
    WebMD

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community
    WebMD

    Community

    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Children's Vaccines Health Center

Font Size
A
A
A

Hepatitis A and B Vaccines: What You Need to Know

What are hepatitis A and B?

They are viruses that cause inflammation of the liver and can lead to long-term and even life-threatening problems.

Did You Know?

Under the Affordable Care Act, many health insurance plans will provide free children’s preventive care services, including checkups, vaccinations and screening tests. Learn more.

Health Insurance Center

What are the symptoms?

Many people with hepatitis don't have symptoms. But if you do, you may have a fever, fatigue, nausea, and a loss of appetite. Children may have severe stomach pains and diarrhea.

How do you get these viruses?

Hepatitis A is extremely contagious. You can get it by having close contact with someone who has it, or through contaminated food or water. 

You can get hepatitis B through contact with bodily fluids, like blood and semen, from someone who has it, or by sharing their personal items like razors or toothbrushes. You can also get it from sharing dirty needles used for injecting illegal drugs, and from body piercings and tattoos given with needles that aren't sterilized. Women with hepatitis B can also pass it to their babies during birth. You can’t get the disease from casual contact.

When adults get hepatitis B, it's usually a short-term infection. But about 90% of babies born with it will have a long-term infection.

Do I need the hepatitis A or B vaccines?

You should get the hep A vaccine if you:

  • Are traveling to a country with a high rate of the disease
  • Have a blood clotting disorder, like hemophilia
  • Use drugs
  • Are a man who has sex with other men

You should get the hepatitis B vaccine if you:

  • Have more than one sex partner
  • Have sexual contact or household contact with someone with hepatitis B
  • Are traveling to an area with a high rate of the disease
  • Share needles or other drug equipment
  • Work in health care and are at risk for exposure to blood or other bodily fluids on the job
  • Have HIV, or chronic liver or kidney disease

You can get the vaccines separately, but there's also a combination vaccine that will protect you against both types of hepatitis. It's given in three or four doses over several months.

Do my children need the vaccines?

Yes. All babies should be vaccinated for hepatitis B at birth, and for hepatitis A at age 1.

What are the side effects of the vaccines?

Most people don't have any. You may feel sore and notice some redness at the injection site.

Who shouldn't get the vaccine?

The hepatitis A vaccine should not be given to children under 1 year old. Don't get either the A or B vaccine if you've had a severe allergic reaction after a dose of the vaccine, or if you're allergic to any of their ingredients. Talk to your doctor if you have severe allergies.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by William Blahd, MD on November 19, 2015
Next Article:

Today on WebMD

Baby getting vaccinated
Is there a link? Get the facts.
syringes and graph illustration
Get a customized vaccine schedule.
 
baby getting a vaccine
Know the benefits and the risk
nurse holding syringe in front of girl
Should your child have it?
 

What To Know About The HPV Vaccine
Article
24 Kid Illnesses Parents Should Know
Slideshow
 
Nausea and Vomiting Remedies Slideshow
Article
Managing Immunization Schedules For Kids
Video
 

Doctor administering vaccine to toddler
Video
gloved hand holding syringe
Article
 
infant receiving injection
Tool
pills
Quiz
 

WebMD Special Sections