Hepatitis B: Prevention and Complications

Prevention Tips

  • Hepatitis B vaccine
  • Avoid having unprotected sex with someone, including anal and oral sex, unless you are sure they are immunised against hepatitis B.
  • Never share your needles with other drug users
  • Take some sensible precautions to avoid the spread of infection, such not sharing toothbrushes or razors with other people.


  • There are some circumstances when you may need to postpone or avoid having the hepatitis B vaccine, if:
  1. You are pregnant
  2. You are breastfeeding
  3. You have an immune deficiency
  4. You have any allergies
  • For full protection, you will need three injections of hepatitis B vaccine over four to six months.
  • You will have a blood test taken one month after the third dose to check the vaccinations have worked.
  • Then better you be immune (resistant to the virus) for at least five years. You can have a booster injection five years after the initial injection.
  • If you have been exposed to the hepatitis B virus and have not been vaccinated before, immediately have the hepatitis B vaccine plus an injection of antibodies called specific hepatitis B immunoglobulin (HBIG). This is because the vaccine does not work straight away. The immunoglobulin works immediately, albeit temporarily, so you are protected until the vaccine starts to work.

Watch Out

  • Joint pains
  • Abdominal pain
  • Dark urine
  • Yellowing of skin and eyes (jaundice)

When to See Doctor

Consult your doctor if
  • You develop symptoms of hepatitis B.
  • Hepatitis B symptoms do not go away in 2-3 weeks, or new symptoms develop.
  • You belong to a high-risk group for hepatitis B and have not had the HBV vaccine.

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