Vaccination for Hepatitis A and B
Both hepatitis A and hepatitis B can be prevented with vaccination. Most centres use a combined vaccine but separate hepatitis A and B vaccines are also available. The vaccination is given to you by injection in your arm. A course of at least three injections is required. There are several options for the timing of these injections (schedules) and the one you follow will depend on your risks. It is important to have all three doses of the vaccine in the schedule as you will not be fully protected until you have had the third injection.
Who should have the hepatitis B vaccination?
In the UK the government has a ‘selective’ vaccination policy. This means that
they recommend vaccination of the following people who are considered to be at
‘high risk’ of getting hepatitis B:
- babies born to infected mothers*
- close family and friends of infected people such as partners, children and other household members
- people travelling to countries with high to medium prevalence of hepatitis B
- injecting drug users (IDUs)
- sex workers, both male and female
- people who change their sexual partners frequently or men who have sex
- with men
- people whose type of work places them at risk, such as nurses, doctors, prison wardens, dentists, healthcare workers and laboratory staff people who live and work in accommodation for people with severe learning difficulties
- families adopting children from countries with high to medium prevalence
- of hepatitis
- people who are infected with a blood borne virus (BBV), or have another form of hepatitis, such as hepatitis A, C, D, E or HIV and are at risk of co-infection
*In the UK from Autumn 2017, the routine childhood vaccination programme will be replaced by a six in one (hexavalent) vaccine which also protects against hepatitis B ensuring all children are vaccinated
People who are at risk can get vaccinated at sexual health services, drug services, and their GP practice or travel health clinics. If you are at risk for medical reasons, the vaccine is provided free of charge by the NHS. However, if you need to be vaccinated because your job puts you at risk or you are travelling, GPs may charge for the vaccine or direct you to a private clinic.
If you are at risk as a result of your working environment, your employer has an obligation to pay for and arrange vaccination.