Why get immunised against hepatitis B?

Hepatitis B is a viral infection of the liver. It can cause long-term liver damage and liver cancer.

Vaccination is a safe and effective way to protect you from hepatitis B.

By getting vaccinated against hepatitis B, you can also help protect other people. The more people who are vaccinated in your community, the less likely the disease will spread.

Who should get immunised against hepatitis B?

Anyone who wants to protect themselves against hepatitis B can talk to their doctor about getting immunised.

Hepatitis B immunisation is recommended for:

  • babies within 7 days of being born, and children aged 2 months, 4 months and 6 months, for free under the National Immunisation Program (NIP)
  • people who live with or share living facilities with a person who has hepatitis B
  • sexual partners of people who have hepatitis B
  • people who attend sexual health services, if they are not immune to hepatitis B
  • men who have sex with men, if they are not immune to hepatitis B
  • migrants from countries where hepatitis B is common, if they are not immune to hepatitis B
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, if they are not immune to hepatitis B
  • people with kidney disease who need dialysis
  • people who are about to have an organ transplant, if they are not immune to hepatitis B
  • people who have recently had a stem cell transplant
  • people living with chronic liver disease or hepatitis C
  • people who inject drugs, if they are not immune to hepatitis B
  • people who need blood transfusions or blood products
  • people with developmental disability who go to day-care facilities, and the staff who work there
  • inmates and staff in prisons, detention centres and similar facilities
  • sex workers
  • anyone whose work may involve blood or body fluids, including healthcare workers, police, people in the military, funeral workers, tattooists and body piercers
  • people who are travelling overseas to areas where hepatitis B is common.

People under 20 years old, refugees and other humanitarian entrants of any age, can get hepatitis B vaccines for free under the NIP. This is if they did not receive the vaccines in childhood. This is called catch-up vaccination.

Where can you get a hepatitis B immunisation?

Hepatitis B immunisations are available in each Australian state and territory.

See Where can I get immunised? for information.

How do you get immunised against hepatitis B?

You can get hepatitis B vaccines on their own or as a combination vaccine. They are all given as a needle.

Hepatitis B vaccines include:

Your doctor can tell you which vaccine they will use for your hepatitis B immunisation.

Do I need to pay for hepatitis B immunisation?

Vaccines covered by the NIP are free for people who are eligible. See the NIP Schedule to find out which vaccines you or your family are eligible to receive.

Eligible people get the vaccine for free, but your health care provider (for example, your doctor) may charge a consultation fee for the visit. You can check this when you make your appointment.

If you are not eligible for free vaccine, you may need to pay for it. The cost depends on the type of vaccine, the formula and where you buy it from. Your immunisation provider can give you more information.

What are the possible side effects of hepatitis B immunisation?

All medicines and vaccines can have side effects. Sometimes they are serious, most of the time they’re not.

Generally, the chance of having a serious side effect from a vaccine is much lower than the chance of serious harm if you caught the disease.

Talk to your doctor about possible side effects of hepatitis B vaccines, or if you or your child have possible side effects that worry you.

Common side effects of hepatitis B vaccines include:

  • soreness where the needle went in
  • low-grade fever
  • body aches.

The Consumer Medicine Information links in How do you get immunised against hepatitis B? list the side effects of each vaccine.

More information

Contacts

If you need advice or more information about immunisation, go to our Immunisation contacts page.

Last updated: 
1 August 2018