Hepatitis A Vaccine
What is hepatitis A?
Hepatitis A is one of several types of hepatitis viruses that cause inflammation affecting your liver's ability to function. It's usually spread through ingesting contaminated food or water or close contact (including sexual relations) with someone who is already infected. Symptoms of hepatitis A include flu-like illness, jaundice, stomach cramping and diarrhea. Frequent hand-washing with soap and warm water after using the bathroom, changing a diaper, or before preparing food can help prevent the spread of hepatitis A.
What is the hepatitis A vaccine?
The Hepatitis A vaccine is the best way to prevent infection and is safe and effective. The vaccine, given in two doses six months apart, is injected into the arm or thigh muscle. Both shots are needed for long-term protection.
Who should get the hepatitis A vaccine?
- All children at age 1 year
- Unvaccinated children or adolescents in communities with hepatitis A outbreaks
- Travelers to countries that have high rates of hepatitis A
- Families planning to adopt a child or care for an adopted child from a country with high rates of hepatitis A
- Men who have sexual contact with other men
- Users of illegal injection and non-injection drugs
- People with chronic liver diseases, such as hepatitis B or hepatitis C
- People who are treated with clotting-factor concentrates for hemophilia or another medical condition
- People who work with hepatitis A infected animals or in a hepatitis A research laboratory
- Any person who has been exposed to the hepatitis A virus
Who should not get the hepatitis A vaccine?
- Anyone with a life-threatening allergy to any vaccine component (all hepatitis A vaccines contain aluminum and some hepatitis A vaccines contain 2-phenoxyethanol)
- Anyone who has ever had a life-threatening allergic reaction to a previous dose of hepatitis A vaccine
- Anyone who is moderately ill
Is the hepatitis A vaccine safe for pregnant women?
The safety of hepatitis A vaccine for pregnant women hasn't been determined. But there's no evidence that it's harmful to either pregnant women or their unborn babies. The risk, if any, is thought to be very low.
What are the side effects of the hepatitis A vaccine?
- Soreness, redness or swelling where the shot was given
- Headache, tiredness and loss of appetite
Severe problems (rare):
- Difficulty breathing
- Pale skin
- Fast heartbeat
Over-the-counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen can help ease pain and reduce fever.
It's extremely rare for these vaccines to cause serious harm or death. If the person getting the vaccine has a serious reaction, seek immediate medical attention.
The hepatitis A vaccine is available at:
Healthcare Clinic for patients aged 7+.
Walgreens Pharmacy. Ages vary by state.
If you believe you have a medical emergency, please call 911.
Call the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) at 800-232-4636 or visit www.cdc.gov/vaccines for more vaccine information.
Hamborsky J, Kroger A, Wolfe S, eds. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).Epidemiology and Prevention of Vaccine-Preventable Diseases. 13th ed. Washington, DC: Public Health Foundation, 2015.
Vaccine Information Statement: Hepatitis A Vaccine (What You Need to Know) October 25, 2011. http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/hcp/vis/vis-statements/hep-a.html. Accessed April 2016.
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*Vaccines subject to availability. State-, age- and health-related restrictions may apply.