Vaccination against Hepatitis B for renal patients
This page will explain why you are being offered the Hepatitis B vaccine. Patients with chronic kidney disease are at an increased risk of Hepatitis B virus infections due to the increased exposure to blood and blood products. All donated blood is tested for Hepatitis B. However, the Department of Health recommends that all patients with kidney failure are vaccinated against the virus.
During dialysis, steps are taken to make sure there is minimum exposure to infection and blood borne viruses. To get the best protection against the Hepatitis B virus our patients are vaccinated before starting dialysis. The renal team will tell you when it is time to start the vaccination programme and will be involved in giving the vaccine.
What is Hepatitis B
Hepatitis B can be a life-threatening viral disease transmitted through body fluid. People who have contracted Hepatitis B do not show any symptoms at first. A person can go on to become a carrier of the viral disease with the risk of infecting others and of developing long-term liver disease or even liver cancer.
Benefits of being vaccinated against Hepatitis B
The vaccination will boost the production of antibodies so that your body is prepared to fight the virus if it enters the blood stream. The vaccination also stops the disease spreading and causing a risk to others. It is important to remember that you must complete the full vaccination course and have any boosters to make sure that you are fully protected. Not everyone will respond to the vaccination and it may have to be repeated.
How is the vaccination given?
A course of 4 injections will be given into the upper part of your arm, over a period of 6 months. Your nurse will give you the dates for your injections.
It is harder for a patient suffering from kidney failure to produce antibodies. For this reason, you will need a slightly higher dose than most people. Some patients with kidney diseases may need a further booster if they do not produce antibodies and others may need the full course repeating. There are also some patients which may not respond to the vaccine at all.
We will measure your antibody response to the vaccine by doing a simple blood test and will let you know if the vaccine has worked. You will be advised if further doses of the vaccine are needed.
If immunity is achieved after your course of injections, you will then be tested annually, and a booster injection of the vaccine given if needed.
Does the vaccine have any side effects?
As with any vaccine or medication, there will be some people who have a reaction or suffer side-effects. The most common side effects are tenderness, redness, pain or swelling at the site of the injection or a mild fever. These side effects will only last a few days. If you are concerned, please contact your GP or the Renal Specialist Nurses on the number at the end of this page.
Will having the vaccination affect my other treatments?
Having the Hepatitis B vaccination will not affect other treatments, nor will it delay dialysis, if starting therapy is considered necessary. Furthermore, the vaccination will not affect your position on the transplant list.
Renal Specialist Nurses
Gloucester Royal Hospital
Tel: 0300 422 6761
Monday to Friday, 8:00am to 4:00pm
Patient - Health Information
Centres for Disease Control and Prevention