hepatitis b vaccine injection (Engerix-B, Recombivax HB)

  • Pharmacy Author:
    Omudhome Ogbru, PharmD

    Dr. Ogbru received his Doctorate in Pharmacy from the University of the Pacific School of Pharmacy in 1995. He completed a Pharmacy Practice Residency at the University of Arizona/University Medical Center in 1996. He was a Professor of Pharmacy Practice and a Regional Clerkship Coordinator for the University of the Pacific School of Pharmacy from 1996-99.

  • Medical and Pharmacy Editor: Jay W. Marks, MD
    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD, is a board-certified internist and gastroenterologist. He graduated from Yale University School of Medicine and trained in internal medicine and gastroenterology at UCLA/Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.


Hepatitis B vaccines (Recombivax HB, Engerix-B) are used to prevent hepatitis B infection, a serious liver infection caused by the hepatitis B virus (HBV).

Hepatitis B is easily spread through contact with blood or other fluids of an infected person. People may also become infected from touching or coming into contact with a contaminated object. The hepatitis B virus can live on surfaces for up to 7 days. Some ways that people may become infected include:

  • Transmission during birth from an infected mother to her newborn
  • Contact with blood or other body fluids though breaks in the skin such as bites, cuts, or sores
  • Contact with objects that have blood or body fluids on them such as razors or toothbrushes that may themselves come into contact with other person's blood
  • Having unprotected sex with an infected person
  • Sharing needles used to inject illicit drugs
  • Getting stuck with a previously used needle that is contaminated

Hepatitis B can cause an acute (short term) illness, with symptoms that include:

Getting vaccinated against the hepatitis B virus is the best way to prevent these problems. Hepatitis B vaccines are made from noninfectious parts of HBV using recombinant DNA technology. The vaccines are sterile preparations for intramuscular injection and contain purified inactive proteins from the surface of HBV. The proteins can activate the immune system but cannot give rise to a replicating virus. Viral proteins used in HBV vaccines are manufactured in yeast cells (S. cerevisiae) using recombinant technology. Hepatitis B vaccines work by stimulating the immune system to attack the viral proteins. When a hepatitis B vaccine is administered, the body's immune system recognizes the viral proteins in the vaccine as foreign, and develops antibodies against them, thus providing immunity from future infections. In the event of HBV exposure following vaccination, the body will already be primed to fight the infection.

The FDA approved the first HBV vaccine in 1983.

REFERENCE: FDA Prescribing Information

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 8/1/2016

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