All babies born from 1 May 2000 can now receive free hepatitis B vaccines from birth.
Hepatitis B is a serious liver infection spread by blood, contaminated needles (e.g. drug users), dirty instruments (e.g. body piercing) and sexual contact.
Vaccination is recommended for all newborns and is highly effective at this age. A single dose is given within seven days of birth and three or four more doses are given over the next 12 months (see table above). A full course of injections provides long-lasting protection.
Boosters (top-up shots) of hepatitis B are no longer recommended. Previously, booster doses were given every five years.
Side effects from the vaccine are usually minor and brief. They include soreness at the injection site, mild fever, joint pain and irritability.
Hepatitis B shots are also recommended for adolescents aged 10 - 13 who have not previously been vaccinated. Free vaccine is now available for this age group (the exact age of the free vaccine varies between states). A course of three injections is given over a six month period. Children and adults of any age can also be vaccinated.
Speak to your doctor for more information about immunisation or visit http://immunise.health.gov.au/.
Please note this information was correct at time of printing.
For up to date information, speak to your doctor.