Hepatitis A Vaccination
Hepatitis A (HAV) is a virus that can cause liver disease.
The virus is most commonly spread through close contact. It can also be spread
by eating or drinking HAV-contaminated food or water. The hepatitis A (HepA)
vaccine is recommended for all children at age 1.
HAV can easily be passed between family members. It can also
be transmitted sexually and through contaminated food. Up to 20 percent of
people with HAV will need hospitalization.
Vaccination is a safe, effective way to prevent HAV. The people
advised to get the HepA vaccine include:
- all children
at age 1
(including infants and children) traveling to countries with high rates of
and adolescents living in areas with a high risk of HepA
who use street drugs
who have sex with men
with chronic liver disease
who work with HAV-infected primates
who work with HAV in laboratories
who use clotting factors
Vaccination requires two doses, at least six months apart.
For children, the first dose should be given between 12 and 23 months of age.
For others, vaccination can be done at any time.
People traveling to areas with HAV should start the vaccine
series at least one month before leaving.
Who Should Not Get Vaccinated?
The HepA vaccine is very safe. However, there are a few
groups of people who should not be vaccinated. These include people with:
severe reactions to HepA vaccine
to vaccine component
- current moderate to severe illnesses
Pregnant women should wait for vaccination, if possible.
However, HepA vaccination is not known to put the fetus at risk.
If you are being vaccinated as an adult, you may want to be
screened for previous exposure to HAV. Tests can look for antibodies against
the virus in your blood. If you have such antibodies, you may not need the HepA
vaccine. However, it’s not dangerous to
get the vaccine if you are already immune.
Potential Side Effects
Severe side effects from the HepA vaccine are extremely
rare. However, more mild side effects are common. These include:
where the shot was given
These problems usually go away in a few days.