Hepatitis B (HepB) Vaccination

What is the hepatitis B (HepB) vaccine?

The hepatitis B (HepB) vaccine is an effective and safe way to prevent hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection. HBV is a significant global health concern, recognised as the primary cause of liver inflammation (hepatitis) and a leading contributor to liver cancer (hepatocellular carcinoma).

How the hepatitis B (HepB) vaccine works

The vaccine is composed of inactivated HBV surface antigens (proteins from the virus), which, when introduced into the body, do not cause the disease but are potent enough to stimulate a robust immune response.

This immune response involves the production of antibodies specific to the hepatitis B virus. Once these antibodies are formed, they provide long-term protection by neutralising or destroying the virus if it enters the body in the future.

Most people who are vaccinated with the hepatitis B vaccine are immune for life.

Why do you need the Hepatitis B (HepB) vaccine?

Hepatitis B is a highly contagious virus transmitted through blood, semen, or other bodily fluids. Infection can lead to chronic liver disease, liver cirrhosis, and liver cancer, making the vaccine a vital preventive measure.

In Singapore, the hepatitis B (HepB) vaccine is recommended under the National Childhood Immunisation Schedule (NCIS) and National Adult Immunisation Schedule (NAIS) to enhance community immunity and reduce the spread of the disease.

When do you need the hepatitis B (HepB) vaccine?

  • Infants. All newborns should receive their first dose of the HepB vaccine before hospital discharge, followed by additional doses at 1-2 and 6-18 months of age.
  • Children and adolescents. Unvaccinated children and adolescents under 18 years old should receive the vaccine as soon as possible.
  • Adults. All unvaccinated adults at risk for HBV infection should be vaccinated. These include healthcare workers, individuals with sexually transmitted infections, people who inject drugs, and those with chronic liver disease, among others.

Adults who have completed their primary series but are at risk for contracting hepatitis B should receive a booster dose.

Who should not receive the hepatitis B (HepB) vaccine?

People with a history of severe allergic reactions to any component of the HepB vaccine, including yeast, or those who have had an anaphylactic reaction to a previous dose, should not receive the vaccine.

Consult with your doctor for alternative preventive measures.

How do you prepare for the hepatitis B (HepB) vaccine?

Before vaccination, provide your doctor with a complete medical history, including:

  • Any severe allergies or previous allergic reactions to vaccines
  • If you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or breastfeeding
  • If you have a weakened immune system due to conditions like HIV/AIDS or cancer or are undergoing chemotherapy
  • If you are currently on any medications, including over-the-counter drugs and supplements
  • If you are currently not feeling well and are running a fever
  • If you have a history of bleeding disorders

What can you expect when getting the hepatitis B (HepB) vaccine?

The HepB vaccine is typically administered as a series of 3 intramuscular injections in the deltoid muscle of the arm. It is also sometimes given under the skin.

The usual schedule is the first dose, followed by a second dose a month later and a final dose 6 months after the first.

What are the common side effects of the hepatitis B (HepB) vaccine?

Most side effects are mild and resolve without treatment. They can include:

  • Pain, swelling, and/or soreness at the injection site
  • Mild fever
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Joint pain

What are the serious side effects that require medical attention?

Serious side effects are rare, but they can occur. These include:

  • Severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis), which can manifest as swollen eyes, lips, face, and tongue
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Hives
  • Pale skin or weakness
  • Fast heartbeat

If any of these symptoms occur, seek medical attention immediately.

Where can I get vaccinated?

Find a Parkway Shenton clinic near you and call us to confirm if your preferred vaccine is available.

Find a clinic near me

Frequently asked questions

Collapse All
Expand All

Yes, the hepatitis B vaccine is considered safe for infants and is routinely given shortly after birth as part of the National Childhood Immunisation Schedule (NCIS) in Singapore.

Yes, the hepatitis B vaccine can be administered alongside other vaccines without compromising its effectiveness or increasing the risk of adverse effects.

Under the National Childhood Immunisation Schedule (NCIS), the HepB vaccine is sometimes given with other vaccines such as diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio and Hib as one shot.

The hepatitis B vaccine provides long-term protection. Studies suggest that immunity lasts at least 20 years and possibly for a lifetime after completing the vaccine series.

If you miss a dose, schedule an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible. There's no need to start the series over, just continue from where you left off.

Yes, the hepatitis B vaccine is safe to receive during pregnancy and is recommended for pregnant women who are at high risk for infection.

In general, booster doses are not recommended for healthy individuals who have completed the vaccine series. However, certain high-risk groups may be advised to get a booster. These groups include:

  • Healthcare workers and others who may be exposed to blood and bodily fluids through their work
  • People who use intravenous drugs
  • Individuals with multiple sexual partners or a history of sexually transmitted infections
  • Men who have sex with men
  • People living with someone who has chronic hepatitis B
  • Individuals undergoing haemodialysis for kidney disease
  • People with chronic liver disease
  • Individuals travelling to regions with high rates of hepatitis B
  • Infants born to hepatitis B-infected mothers
  • Recipients of blood transfusions or organ transplants

Haemodialysis patients need the hepatitis B vaccine because their treatment involves frequent exposure to blood and blood products, which increases their risk of contracting hepatitis B, a virus commonly transmitted through blood.

The nature of haemodialysis treatment, which involves accessing the bloodstream, potentially exposes patients to contaminated equipment or blood.

Vaccination provides these patients with crucial protection against hepatitis B, reducing their risk of developing chronic liver disease or liver cancer associated with the virus.

Yes, by preventing hepatitis B infection, the vaccine also significantly reduces the risk of developing liver cancer associated with chronic HBV infection.

Yes, the hepatitis B vaccine can be given as a part of post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) in certain situations, such as after a potential exposure to hepatitis B virus through a needlestick injury or sexual contact.

It is often given in combination with hepatitis B immune globulin for better protection. If you believe you've been exposed to the hepatitis B virus, consult a healthcare provider immediately.

If you've had a confirmed hepatitis B infection, you might have natural immunity. However, consult your doctor for blood tests to determine if you have active immunity before making a decision.

As some hepatitis B vaccines contain yeast, individuals with a yeast allergy should consult their healthcare provider for an alternative vaccine option or additional precautions.

Generally, no special precautions are needed. You can resume normal activities, but you may wish to avoid strenuous activities if you experience soreness at the injection site.

Why choose Parkway Shenton?

Comprehensive family care
Comprehensive family care

A range of healthcare services for you and your family, no matter your needs

Connection to IHH network
Connection to IHH network

Seamless connections to Mount Elizabeth, Gleneagles and other brands in our IHH Healthcare network

Singapore’s oldest GP group
Singapore’s oldest GP group

Your trusted healthcare provider since 1973