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Hepatitis A Vaccine

1. What is hepatitis A?

Hepatitis A is a serious liver disease caused by the hepatitis A virus (HAV). HAV is found in the stool of people with hepatitis A.

It is usually spread by close personal contact and sometimes by eating food or drinking water containing HAV. A person who has hepatitis A can easily pass the disease to others within the same household.

Hepatitis A can cause:

People with hepatitis A often have to be hospitalized (up to about 1 person in 5).

Adults with hepatitis A are often too ill to work for up to a month.

Sometimes, people die as a result of hepatitis A (about 3–6 deaths per 1,000 cases).

Hepatitis A vaccine can prevent hepatitis A.

2. Who should get hepatitis A vaccine and when?

WHO

Some people should be routinely vaccinated with hepatitis A vaccine:

Other people might get hepatitis A vaccine in certain situations (ask your doctor for more details):

Hepatitis A vaccine is not licensed for children younger than 1 year of age.

WHEN

For children, the first dose should be given at 12 through 23 months of age. Children who are not vaccinated by 2 years of age can be vaccinated at later visits.

For others at risk, the hepatitis A vaccine series may be started whenever a person wishes to be protected or is at risk of infection.

For travelers, it is best to start the vaccine series at least one month before traveling. (Some protection may still result if the vaccine is given on or closer to the travel date.)

Two doses of the vaccine are needed for lasting protection. These doses should be given at least 6 months apart. Hepatitis A vaccine may be given at the same time as other vaccines.

3. Some people should not get hepatitis A vaccine or should wait.

4. What are the risks from hepatitis A vaccine?

A vaccine, like any medicine, could possibly cause serious problems, such as severe allergic reactions. The risk of hepatitis A vaccine causing serious harm, or death, is extremely small.

Getting hepatitis A vaccine is much safer than getting the disease.

Mild problems

If these problems occur, they usually last 1 or 2 days.

Severe problems

5. What if there is a serious reaction?

What should I look for?

Look for anything that concerns you, such as signs of a severe allergic reaction, very high fever, or behavior changes.

Signs of a severe allergic reaction can include hives, swelling of the face and throat, difficulty breathing, a fast heartbeat, dizziness, and weakness. These would start a few minutes to a few hours after the vaccination.

What should I do?

VAERS is only for reporting reactions. They do not give medical advice.

6. The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program

The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) is a federal program that was created to compensate people who may have been injured by certain vaccines.

Persons who believe they may have been injured by a vaccine can learn about the program and about filing a claim by calling 1-800-338-2382 or visiting the VICP website at www.hrsa.gov/vaccinecompensation.

7. How can I learn more? Ask your doctor.


Reference: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Last updated May 8, 2015