Why Are Adults 19 to 59 Recommended to Get the Hepatitis B Vaccine?

In this short video, Dr. Paul Offit talks about hepatitis B, why it’s worth preventing, and why adults who haven’t been vaccinated against hepatitis B are recommended to get the vaccine. 


Why are adults 19 to 59 recommended to get the hepatitis B?

Paul Offit, MD: Hi, my name is Paul Offit. I'm talking to you today from the Vaccine Education Center at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. It is June 21st, 2022. So, recently the CDC made a change in their recommendation for vaccines against hepatitis B virus. So, hepatitis B virus causes inflammation of the liver, and worse what can happen is people can develop long-term problems with the liver, so-called chronic hepatitis, or they can develop liver cancer. So, the hepatitis B virus is certainly one worth preventing.

In 1991 the CDC had a routine recommendation for all children, really starting from birth and then over the period of the next few months, to get the hepatitis B vaccine. Now, at the time if you looked at the incidence of that disease in children less than 18 years of age, there were about 18,000 cases every year. And many of those children, especially those who got infected early in life, would go on to develop chronic liver disease or liver cancer — 18,000, usually between … less than 18 years of age before that vaccine was used.

Once we instituted that vaccine in 1991, we essentially eliminated the disease in children less than 18 years of age. But some people didn't get the vaccine. And so, what the CDC now has seen is that there's been an increase in hepatitis B in older people. So, the recommendation now is that for anyone between 19 and 59 years of age that they get the hepatitis B vaccine.

There are three hepatitis B vaccines. Two of them are given as a series of three doses over six months; and the third is given as a series of two doses, with the two doses separated by at least one month.

So, make sure you get the hepatitis B vaccine if you haven't gotten it.

Thank you.

Last Reviewed on Jul 11, 2022