/ Impfservice 9 Hepatitis B


What is hepatitis B?

Hepatitis B is an infection caused by a virus that damages the liver. It starts with pain in
the limbs, fever, loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting, followed by
jaundice. Jaundice can be most often identified by a discolouration of
the eyes, dark urine and light-coloured stools. However, 1 in 3 infected persons
do not have these typical symptoms, meaning that the infection can go unnoticed. 1 in
10 infected persons develops a permanent (“chronic”)
condition and 1 in 4 among this group of persons suffers from cirrhosis or cancer of the liver at a later date. If
a baby is infected with hepatitis B, the infection develops into a
permanent illness in as many as 9 in 10 cases.

The disease is treated with medication to suppress the virus.

The hepatitis B virus can be found all over the world but predominantly in tropical countries (Africa, Middle East, Southeast Asia, Oceania). It is transmitted via body fluids, such as blood, saliva, sperm or vaginal fluid. However, it is also possible to contract the disease via infected objects, such as hypodermic needles, razor blades, toothbrushes and similar items. After infection, it takes 1 to 6 months for symptoms to appear.

Women infected with the virus will pass it on to their child during pregnancy or birth. Vaccinating the baby directly after birth can prevent the newborn from developing the illness.


Vaccination advice for children

The hepatitis B vaccination is covered by the free-of-charge child vaccination programme available in Austria. It is part of the six-in-one vaccination that also provides protection against diphtheria, tetanus, polio, whooping cough (pertussis) and haemophilus influenzae b.

Vaccination schedule

First vaccination: in the 3rd month of life
Second vaccination: 4. from the 4th to the 5th month of life
Third vaccination: 11. from the 11th to the 12th month of life
Fourth vaccination: at 8 to 15 years of age

Vaccination for babies of women infected with hepatitis B:
First vaccination: directly after birth
Second vaccination: after 1 month, then following the same process as
all other children with the six-in-one vaccination

Vaccination advice for adults

  • Have you already been vaccinated against hepatitis B?
    In this case, you will normally need no further hepatitis B vaccinations unless you belong to a risk group (see below).
  • You have not yet been vaccinated against hepatitis B?
    Then you should get vaccinated at any time.

Vaccination schedule

First vaccination: at any time
Second vaccination: after 1 month
Third vaccination: after 6 to 12 months

If required, a rapid immunisation schedule is available as well.

Persons who respond well to the vaccination have practically total (100%) protection. However, some persons do not respond to the vaccination and are therefore not protected (“vaccination failure”).

Risk groups

Specific risk groups should have their level of protection checked with a blood test. If necessary, you can be given a booster vaccination.

These risk groups include:

  • persons in contact with
    individuals suffering from hepatitis B
  • persons with liver conditions
  • persons who because of their
    work, behaviour or a medical condition run a higher risk
    of coming into contact with infected blood or other body fluids
  • persons travelling to countries
    where hepatitis B is still quite common

Do you want to find out more about the hepatitis B vaccination? Are you unsure whether you have been vaccinated against hepatitis B? Are you part of a risk group?