HB (hepatitis B)

Recombivax HB®, Engerix®-B

This vaccine protects against Hepatitis B virus. This disease is easily prevented with immunization.

What is Hepatitis B?

  • A virus that affects your liver and can cause liver cancer
  • Spread through blood and certain body fluids of infected people (e.g. sharing toothbrushes or razors, tattooing and body piercing with contaminated tools, babies born to infected mothers)
  • Some people have no symptoms, but they can still give the disease to others
  • Causes people to become tired, feverish and lose their appetite
  • Sometimes people can get yellow skin and eyes (called jaundice)
  • People can die from the disease. There is no cure.

Who should get Hepatitis B vaccine?

  • All children before they become teenagers
  • Newborn babies of mothers with Hepatitis B
  • Health care workers
  • Workers whose jobs put them at increased risk of getting Hepatitis B (e.g. prison staff, police, embalmers)
  • People with health problems who need frequent blood transfusions,  blood products, or dialysis
  • People with chronic liver disease or waiting for a liver transplant
  • People who live with or have close contact to a  person with Hepatitis B
  • People who use drugs by needles
  • People with multiple sexual partners or who have had a sexually transmitted disease
  • People who travel to a place where there is a higher risk of getting Hepatitis B

Talk to your doctor/public health nurse if you:

  • Had a bad reaction to a vaccine or an ingredient in the vaccine, had a serious reaction to yeast or latex, or have any other allergies.
  • Take medications or have any diseases that lower the immune system or increase bleeding
  • Feel very sick

What if a needle is missed?

Get the next needle as soon as possible

What if I decide not to be immunized?

Choosing not to be immunized or delaying immunization puts you/your child at risk of getting sick with Hepatitis B.

Is Hepatitis B vaccine safe?

Yes!  You may have no reaction or mild symptoms that include:

  • Redness, swelling,  and pain where the needle went in
  • Low fever
  • Children may become fussy or sleepier than usual;

These normal reactions usually last between 12 and 24 hours.  Hepatitis B vaccine is safe during pregnancy and breast feeding

When should I call my doctor?

Serious reactions after vaccination are very rare.  Get immediate medical help if you/your child have any unusual symptoms such as:

  • trouble breathing, swelling in your face/mouth and/or blotchy skin (hives)
  • fever above 40°C (104°F);
  • crying or fussing for more than 24 hours;
  • worsening swelling, redness, and/or pain where the needle went in;
  • unusual sleepiness (difficult to wake)

You know best.  If you notice anything that is not normal after a vaccination, check with your healthcare provider.

Talk to your healthcare provider if you have any questions.


  • Make sure to update your immunization record
  • Notify the Health Unit each time your child receives a vaccine by phone (519-753-4937 ext. 451) or online

Sources: Public Health Agency of Canada (Canadian Immunization Guide)Publicly Funded Schedules for Ontario

This information is for general knowledge only and does not replace professional medical advice. Please note there is a cost for immunizations that are not included in Ontario’s Publicly Funded Immunization Schedule. For more information contact us at 519-753-4937 ext. 451 or immunizationintake@bchu.org