Hepatitis B vaccinations in the past have typically been a series of three shots over a six month period but that is no longer the case. In November 2017, the FDA approved a new two-shot Hep B vaccination called Heplisav-B – Dynavax (What a name, right?) The Heplisav-B vaccination is a series of two shots given one month apart.
What is Hepatitis B?
Hep B is a viral infection that is transmitted through broken skin or mucosal contact with blood, semen, or other bodily fluids of an individual infected with the Hep B virus. Common modes of transmission are from mother to baby during birth, sexual intercourse, sharing needles/intravenous drug use, sharing items like razors or toothbrushes, direct contact with an open wound or sore, and needle sticks.
In adults, Hep B can be cleared by your body’s immune system in most cases (in 90 percent of people who are infected with Hep B). This means there is still a risk that those infected with Hep B will develop Chronic Hep B infection. If Chronic Hep B goes untreated, up to 20 percent of individuals will develop liver cirrhosis and could progress to liver failure and around two to five percent will develop hepatocellular carcinoma, a common type of primary liver cancer.
MSM (men who have sex with men) are at a particularly higher risk of Hepatitis B infection (as well as HIV) so it is recommended that they have the Hep B vaccination. Getting screened and vaccinated for Hep B is easy, especially now that you can get immunized with two shots instead of three. In addition to being one less shot, the rates of protection from the two-shot series (Heplisav-B) were shown to be statistically significantly higher when compared to the three-shot series (Engerix-B, in this case).
Give us a call at 404.888.0228 or schedule an appointment online to discuss getting the new 2-shot series Hepatitis B vaccination.
Jeremiah Robinson PA-C is a licensed and certified Physician Assistant with T. Douglas Gurley MD in Atlanta, GA