Hepatitis B vaccine

Key points about hepatitis B vaccine

  • The hepatitis B vaccine protects against infection from the hepatitis B virus.
  • It is also called Engerix-B® and Infanrix-hexa®.
  • Find out about the vaccine and possible side effects.
blue unaunahi tile generic

Hepatitis B vaccine gives protection against infection from the hepatitis B virus. The vaccine works by causing the body to produce antibodies against the virus responsible for hepatitis B infection and in this way protects (or provides immunity) against the disease.  

Hepatitis B is a virus that is easily spread  through contact with the blood or bodily fluids (such as saliva and semen) of an infected person. For example, it can be passed on through unprotected sex, by sharing injection gear, through a needle stick injury or from pregnant person to child during childbirth. Hepatitis B infection can cause serious problems including liver failure, cirrhosis and liver cancer. Preventing infection can prevent these problems. Read more about hepatitis B.

Hepatitis B immunisation is recommended and funded for the following groups:

  • All children up to their 18th birthday.
  • Babies born to mothers with hepatitis B infection (read more about hepatitis B and pregnancy).
  • People who live in close contact with someone infected with hepatitis B.
  • Anyone undergoing renal dialysis.
  • People who have hepatitis C infection, or who are HIV positive, or who have had a needle stick injury. 
  • Anyone who has received immunosuppression therapy of at least 28 days or has had solid organ or bone marrow transplant.

Hepatitis B immunisation is also recommended, but not funded, for:

  • workers who are likely to come into contact with blood products, or who are at increased risk of needlestick injuries, assault, etc. 
  • people who change sex partners frequently such as sex workers
  • people who regularly receive blood transfusions such as people with haemophilia
  • prison inmates
  • current or recent injecting drug users
  • migrants and travellers from or to areas with intermediate or high rates of hepatitis B such as the Asia and Pacific region.

There are a few different vaccines that are effective against hepatitis B, but only the following 2 are funded in Aotearoa New Zealand. 


This is a combination vaccine that provides protection against hepatitis B and other infections including diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, poliomyelitis and disease caused by Haemophilis influenza type B. It's usually given to babies as part of the primary immunisation at 6 weeks, 3 months and 5 months of age. This vaccine protects almost all children (95%) from hepatitis B infection. No further doses are required. Protection is expected to be lifelong. 



This vaccine protects against hepatitis B only. It doesn't protect against other infections including other hepatitis infections such as hepatitis A and hepatitis C. It's used in special groups eligible for hepatitis B vaccine (as above), in older children or adults who have not had their complete hepatitis B immunization or it is given at birth to infants born to people who are hepatitis B positive.  

These vaccines are given intramuscularly (injected into the muscle) of your upper arm or thigh.

Like all medicines, vaccines can cause side effects, although not everyone gets them. 

Side effects What should I do?
  • Pain, swelling and redness at the injection site (hard and sore to touch)
  • This is quite common after having the vaccination.
  • It usually starts a few hours after getting the injection and settles within a few days.
  • Place a cold, wet cloth, or ice pack where the injection was given. Leave it on for a short time. 
  • Don't rub the injection site.
  • Tell your doctor if this bother you.
  • Read more After your immunisation(external link)
  • Fever
  • It's quite common for the first 1 or 2 days after receiving the injection and usually settles within a few days.
  • Dress lightly, with a single layer of clothing. Don't wrap your child in a blanket.
  • Keep the room cool, use a fan.
  • Drink plenty of fluids.
  • The routine use of paracetamol is not recommended following vaccinations, but may be used if your child is miserable or distressed.
  • Tell your doctor if the fever persists.
  • Read more about after your immunisation.(external link)
  • Feeling unwell, tired or weak
  • Loss of appetite
  • Muscle ache
  • Headache
  • These are quite common for the first 1 or 2 days after getting the injection.
  • It usually settles within a few days.
  • Rest and drink plenty of fluids.
  • The routine use of paracetamol is not recommended following vaccinations, but may be used for relief of severe discomfort.
  • Tell your doctor if they bother you.
  • Read more about after your immunisation.(external link)
  • Signs of an allergic reaction such as skin rash, itches, swelling of your face, lips, mouth or problems breathing
  • Tell your doctor immediately or ring Healthline 0800 611 116.
Did you know that you can report a medicine side effect to CARM (Centre for Adverse Reactions Monitoring)? Report a side effect to a product.(external link)

The best place to go for vaccinations is your family medical clinic. They have your medical records and can check to see if you’ve already had a particular vaccination. Either your doctor or a nurse can give the vaccination.

If you don’t have a family doctor, you can go to one of the after-hour medical clinics. Ring them first to make sure they can help you with the vaccination you need.

You can find a clinic near you on the Healthpoint(external link) website. Put in your address and region, and under Select a service, click on GPs/Accident & Urgent Medical Care.

Vaccines on the National Immunisation Schedule are free. Other vaccines are funded only for people at particular risk of disease. You can choose to pay for vaccines that you are not eligible to receive for free.

The following links provide further information on hepatitis B vaccines:

The New Zealand National Immunisation Schedule(external link) 
Tips following immunisation(external link) Ministry of Health, NZ
Engerix-B(external link) Medsafe Consumer Information
Hepatitis B and C(external link)(external link) Department of Corrections and Ministry of Health, NZ, 2013
Hepatitis B – personal record(external link)(external link) Ministry of Health and Health Promotion Agency, NZ, 2014

  1. Hepatitis B(external link) Immunisation Handbook, NZ, 2020
  2. Hepatitis B(external link) The Immunisation Advisory Centre
  3. Infanrix-hexa(external link) The Immunisation Advisory Centre
  4. HBvaxPRO(external link) The Immunisation Advisory Centre


5 questions to ask about your medications

5 questions to ask about your medications

Health Quality and Safety Commission, NZ, 2019

Te reo Māori

hepatitis b and c

Hepatitis B and C

Department of Corrections and Ministry of Health, NZ, 2013

hepatitis b personal record

Hepatitis B – personal record

Ministry of Health and Health Promotion Agency, NZ, 2014

Free helplines

Link to Māori Pharmacists website

Credits: Healthify editorial team. Healthify is brought to you by Health Navigator Charitable Trust.

Reviewed by: Sandra Ponen, Pharmacist, Auckland

Last reviewed:

Page last updated: