People who work in any job that involves direct patient care; handling human tissue, blood or body fluids; or handling used needles or syringes are recommended to receive hepatitis B vaccine if they are not immune
Hepatitis B vaccine is recommended for people who work in any occupation that involves any of:
- direct patient care
- handling human tissue, blood or body fluids
- handling used needles or syringes
These people should also routinely follow standard precautions against exposure to human tissue, blood or body fluids.19
The risk to people in certain occupations differs considerably between settings in different parts of Australia. Workers who have an increased risk of acquiring hepatitis B include:
- healthcare workers
- police, members of the armed forces, emergency services staff and staff of correctional facilities, if they are assigned to duties that may involve exposure to human tissue, blood or body fluids
- funeral workers, embalmers and other workers who have regular contact with human tissue, blood or body fluids, or used needles or syringes
- staff involved in both residential and non-residential care of people with developmental disabilities, because of the high prevalence of markers of past or current infection in people in this setting16-18
- workers who perform skin penetration procedures, such as tattooists and body-piercers
Early childhood educators and carers are normally at minimal risk of hepatitis B transmission. The local public health authority can provide advice about risk if needed.
Adult-formulation hepatitis B vaccine should be given in a 3-dose schedule. See Table. Monovalent hepatitis B vaccines for adolescents and adults in Vaccines, dosage and administration.
Levels of antibody to hepatitis B surface antigen should be checked after the vaccination course. See Serological testing after hepatitis B vaccination. The combination hepatitis A-hepatitis B vaccine may be appropriate for people with an occupational risk of exposure to both hepatitis A and B if they are not immune to either disease. This is usually given in 3 doses using Twinrix (720/20). See Table. Combination hepatitis A-hepatitis B vaccines in Vaccines, dosage and administration.
For more details, see Hepatitis A and Vaccination for people at occupational risk.