The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently announced that it recommends hepatitis B vaccination for all adults ages 19-59[i]*. While there is no cure for hepatitis B, vaccination can prevent the disease. Fortunately, with two trips to your local pharmacy, you can get protected against the hepatitis B virus in as little as one month.
Hepatitis B: What You Need to Know
Hepatitis B is a potentially fatal viral infection that is the leading cause of liver cancer worldwide[ii] Spread through contact with infected blood or bodily fluids, hepatitis B is 100 times more infectious than HIV.[iii] There are approximately 2.4 million people in the U.S. with chronic hepatitis B. Symptoms can stay dormant, or not show at all, for up to 30 years. Therefore, many people may be unaware of their infection and can unknowingly spread it to others. A vaccine can prevent hepatitis B, but there’s no cure for the condition.
Vaccination is the Key to Protection
In 1991, infants began getting vaccinated against hep B. This led to a dramatic reduction of hepatitis B infection rates. That said, many adults born before the hepatitis B vaccine mandate are still unprotected and are at-risk for infection. Today, the rate of adult hepatitis B infection is on the rise due to low adult vaccination rates. According to the CDC, 75% of U.S. adults are not currently protected against hepatitis B.1
Two-Dose Hepatitis B Vaccine Option
Recent innovation in hepatitis B vaccines has made it possible for adults to get protection in a shorter period of time. Until recently, hepatitis B vaccine options had been limited to three-doses (or shots) given over six months.[iv] As you can imagine, this can create challenges with people completing the series.[v] A recent study from Kaiser Permanente, one of the nation’s leading health care providers, found that only 26% of adults completed all three doses of the traditional hepatitis B vaccine.[vi]
A two-dose (or two shot) hepatitis B vaccine option called HEPLISAV-B® [Hepatitis B Vaccine (Recombinant), Adjuvanted] is available and the series can be completed in one month. HEPLISAV-B is approved for use in the U.S. for adults 18 and over.
“The CDC vaccination recommendation is the spark that the nation’s hepatitis B elimination strategy truly needed,” says Dr. Arun Jesudian, Assistant Professor of Medicine at New York-Presbyterian Hospital – Weill Cornell Medicine. “The CDC’s action will play a critical role in helping fulfill the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ vision to eliminate hepatitis B by 2030, empowering a path forward to immunize and protect adults born before 1991 who have not yet received the vaccine.”
It’s time to talk to your pharmacist about Hepatitis B
The combination of the CDC vaccine recommendation and the availability of the two-dose vaccine option bodes well for a potential future without hepatitis B.
“By making hepatitis B the fifth vaccine routinely recommended for adult immunization alongside the flu vaccine, Tdap, Shingles, and Pneumococcal, the CDC has laid the foundation for a sea change in healthcare delivery in the U.S. that will help save lives by enabling more adults to gain protection against the deadly virus,” adds Dr. Jesudian.
If you were born before 1991 and have not yet received a hepatitis B vaccine, talk to your pharmacist about getting protected with the two-dose hepatitis B vaccine, HEPLISAV-B. For more information and to find a nearby pharmacist who can help protect you against hepatitis B, click here.
Indication and Use
HEPLISAV-B is indicated for prevention of infection caused by all known subtypes of hepatitis B virus in adults age 18 years and older.
IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION
Do not administer HEPLISAV-B to individuals with a history of severe allergic reaction (e.g., anaphylaxis) after a previous dose of any hepatitis B vaccine or to any component of HEPLISAV-B, including yeast.
Appropriate medical treatment and supervision must be available to manage possible anaphylactic reactions following administration of HEPLISAV-B.
Immunocompromised persons, including individuals receiving immunosuppressant therapy, may have a diminished immune response to HEPLISAV-B.
Hepatitis B has a long incubation period. HEPLISAV-B may not prevent hepatitis B infection in individuals who have an unrecognized hepatitis B infection at the time of vaccine administration.
The most common patient-reported adverse reactions reported within 7 days of vaccination were injection site pain (23%-39%), fatigue (11%-17%), and headache (8%-17%).
For full Prescribing Information for HEPLISAV-B, click here.
* The CDC recommends hepatitis B vaccination for all adults ages 19-59 years old, as well as adults older than 60 with risk factors for hepatitis B. Anyone 60 years or older who does not meet risk-based recommendations may still receive hepatitis B vaccination.
[i] Murthy N, Wodi AP, Bernstein H, McNally V, Cineas S, Ault K. Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices Recommended Immunization Schedule for Adults Aged 19 Years or Older — United States, 2022. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2022;71:229–233. DOI: https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/71/wr/mm7107a1.htm?s_cid=mm7107a1_w
[iii] Walayat S, Ahmed Z, Martin D, Puli S, Cashman M, Dhillon S. Recent advances in vaccination of non-responders to standard dose hepatitis B virus vaccine. World J Hepatol. 2015;7(24):2503-2509.
[iv] Mast EE, Weinbaum CM, Fiore AE, et al. A comprehensive immunization strategy to eliminate transmission of hepatitis B virus infection in the United States: recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) part II: immunization of adults. MMWR Recomm Rep. 2006;55(RR-16):1-33.
[v] Williams WW, Lu P-J, O’Halloran, et al. Surveillance of vaccination coverage among adult populations – United States, 2015. MMWR Surveill Summ. 2017;66(11):1-28.