Hepatitis B vaccination for kidney patients
This information is for people who are at increased risk of getting hepatitus B from their kidney condition.
Hepatitis B is an infection of the liver. It is caused by the hepatitis B virus and can be passed on by infected blood or bodily fluids.
You can be protected from hepatitis B infection by a vaccine.
The hepatitis B vaccine consists of a course of injections which contain an inactive hepatitis B virus.
If you have any questions or concerns, please speak to a doctor or nurse caring for you.
Benefits of having the hepatitis B vaccine
If you need dialysis or a transplant, you will be at a slightly increased risk of getting hepatitis B. This is because:
- you may be exposed to blood and other bodily fluids during treatment
- your kidney impairment means you are more at risk of infection or disease
We recommend all patients who are on renal replacement programmes (dialysis or renal transplant) should be vaccinated against the hepatitis B virus.
People who travel abroad and receive medical treatment while they are outside the UK may be more at risk of picking up the virus, particularly if they have had an operation. This is because surgical procedures abroad may not follow such strict guidelines as in this country.
How to get the vaccination
The vaccination can be done:
- at your kidney clinic
- locally at your GP surgery
It is recommended to complete the course using the same brand of hepatitis B vaccine and not interchange with another. It is important therefore to complete the whole vaccination course either at the kidney clinic or at your GP surgery.
How the vaccination is given
The brand of hepatitis B vaccine we usually use is Fendrix®. It's given into the muscle of the upper arm.
This is given in 4 injections over 6 months.
You have your first 3 doses 1 month apart and the fourth dose is at 6 months. For example:
|Vaccine dose||Date of injection|
|First injection||6 January|
|Second injection||6 February|
|Third injection||6 March|
|Fourth injection||6 June|
If the date falls on a weekend or bank holiday, the vaccination will be given on the next closest date.
It is important to finish the complete course of 4 injections. If not, you may not be fully protected against the disease.
Very occasionally, a different brand of hepatitis B vaccine will be used. This means the frequency of your injections may be different. If so, you will be given information on when the doses need to be given.
When you shouldn't be vaccinated
If you are unwell and have a temperature, you'll need to wait to have your vaccination until you are better.
You should have a gap of at least 2 weeks between the hepatitis B vaccination and any other vaccine, such as the flu jab. Please let your nurses know at your next clinic appointment. It is important to keep as close as possible to the vaccination dates that you have been given. Delays may mean you are not fully protected, and you may need to repeat the course.
Side effects are uncommon.
Some people develop soreness and redness at the injection site.
Some people develop a mild fever and flu-like symptoms days after the injection. This is rare.
Very rarely people have an allergic reaction.
Call 999 or go to A&E straight away if:
you have signs of an allergic reaction, including:
- a rash
- swelling of the face
- difficulty in swallowing
If you feel unwell after having the vaccine or are concerned about side-effects, please speak to your kidney nurse for further advice
Further information on side-effects is available in the manufacturer’s patient information leaflet that comes with the vaccine. If you do not have a copy, please ask us for one.
How long you're protected for
Once you have completed the course of vaccines you will have a blood test to check your body has made enough antibodies (chemicals that fight infection) to protect you from hepatitis B virus.
People with reduced kidney function may not produce enough antibodies. If your antibody level is low it is sometimes necessary to repeat the vaccinations to encourage your body to make more antibodies.
The antibodies will be checked yearly after that and an extra dose of vaccine (called a booster) may be given if needed. If you have any further questions, please ask your nurse or doctor at your next clinic appointment.