Skip to content

Diabetes Health Center

Font Size

Panel Recommends Hepatitis B Vaccine for Diabetes Patients

Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices Votes to Recommend Vaccine for Patients Under 60
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

Oct. 25, 2011 -- Do you have diabetes? Get the hepatitis B vaccine, says the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP).

By a 12-2 vote, the ACIP strongly recommended the hepatitis B vaccine for diabetes patients under age 60 who have not been fully vaccinated. It also urged hepatitis vaccination of some older diabetes patients.

Up to age 60, people with diabetes have twice the risk of hepatitis B as those without diabetes. Yet only 17% of those living with diabetes (and 26% of those without diabetes) have been fully vaccinated against hepatitis B.

Diabetes patients over age 60 may also be at increased risk. There have been a number of devastating outbreaks in nursing homes where hepatitis B was accidentally spread by shared glucose monitors.

Lifetime Protection Against Hepatitis B

The ACIP balked at making a stronger recommendation for older diabetes patients. Committee members were strongly influenced by the cost of vaccinating all over-60 people with diabetes. Also a factor in their decision is data showing that the vaccine is less likely to be effective in those who are frail and elderly.

The hepatitis vaccine is most effective in young adults. If they haven't already been vaccinated, people should get the hepatitis B vaccine as soon as they learn of their diabetes diagnosis, the ACIP advises. The three- or four-dose series offers protection that usually lasts a lifetime.

The hepatitis B virus infects the liver. While some people fight off the infection, others don't. Some 1.25 million Americans have long-lasting (chronic) hepatitis B infection. In the U.S., hepatitis B kills 3,000 to 5,000 people a year.

The ACIP is made up of independent experts who advise the CDC and FDA on vaccination policy. The committee's recommendations form the basis of the U.S. immunization schedules.

Is This Normal? Get the Facts Fast!

Check Your Blood Sugar Level Now
What type of diabetes do you have?
Your gender:

Get the latest Diabetes newsletter delivered to your inbox!


Your level is currently

If the level is below 70 or you are experiencing symptoms such as shaking, sweating or difficulty thinking, you will need to raise the number immediately. A quick solution is to eat a few pieces of hard candy or 1 tablespoon of sugar or honey. Recheck your numbers again in 15 minutes to see if the number has gone up. If not, repeat the steps above or call your doctor.

People who experience hypoglycemia several times in a week should call their health care provider. It's important to monitor your levels each day so you can make sure your numbers are within the range. If you are pregnant always consult with your health care provider.

Congratulations on taking steps to manage your health.

However, it's important to continue to track your numbers so that you can make lifestyle changes if needed. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

Your level is high if this reading was taken before eating. Aim for 70-130 before meals and less than 180 two hours after meals.

Even if your number is high, it's not too late for you to take control of your health and lower your blood sugar.

One of the first steps is to monitor your levels each day. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

Did You Know Your Lifestyle Choices
Affect Your Blood Sugar?

Use the Blood Glucose Tracker to monitor
how well you manage your blood sugar over time.

Get Started

This tool is not intended for women who are pregnant.

Start Over

Step:  of 

Today on WebMD

Diabetic tools
Symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and more.
woman flexing muscles
10 strength training exercises.
Blood sugar test
12 practical tips.
Tom Hanks
Stars living with type 1 or type 2.
kenneth fujioka, md
Can Vinegar Treat Diabetes
Middle aged person
Home Healthcare

Prediabetes How to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes
type 2 diabetes
food fitness planner