HEPATITIS A VACCINE
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
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 persons with hepatitis A. It is usually spread by close personal contact and sometimes by eating food or drinking water containing HAV.
Hepatitis A can cause:
• mild “flu-like” illness
• jaundice (yellow skin or eyes)
• severe stomach pains and diarrhea
People with hepatitis A often have to be hospitalized (up to about 1 person in 5).
Sometimes, people die as a result of hepatitis A (about 3-5 deaths per 1,000 cases).
A person who has hepatitis A can easily pass the disease to others within the same household.
Hepatitis A vaccine can prevent hepatitis A.
2. Who should get hepatitis vaccine and when?
Some people should be routinely vaccinated with hepatitis A vaccine:
Other people might get hepatitis A vaccine in special situations:
Hepatitis A vaccine is not licensed for children younger than 1 year of age.
For children, the first dose should be given at 12-23 months of age. Children who are not vaccinated by 2 years of age can be vaccinated at later visits.
For travelers, the vaccine series should be started at least one month before traveling to provide the best protection. (Persons who get the vaccine less than one month before traveling can also get a shot called immune globulin (IG). IG gives immediate, temporary protection.) For others, the hepatitis A vaccine series may be started whenever a person is at risk of infection.
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
• Anyone who has ever had a severe (lifethreatening) allergic reaction to a previous dose of hepatitis A vaccine should not get another dose.
• Anyone who has a severe (life threatening) allergy to any vaccine component should not get the vaccine. Tell your doctor if you have any severe allergies. All hepatitis A vaccines contain alum and some hepatitis A vaccines contain 2-phenoxyethanol.
• Anyone who is moderately or severely ill at the time the shot is scheduled should probably wait until they recover. Ask your doctor or nurse. People with a mild illness can usually get the vaccine.
• Tell your doctor if you are pregnant. The safety of hepatitis A vaccine for pregnant women has not been determined. But there is no evidence that it is harmful to either pregnant women or their unborn babies. The risk, if any, is thought to be very low.
4. What are the risks of 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.
If these problems occur, they usually last 1 or 2 days.
5. What if there is a moderate or severe reaction?
What should I look for?
What should I do?
VAERS does not provide medical advice.
6. The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program
A federal program exists to help pay for the care of anyone who has a serious reaction to a vaccine.
For more information about the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, call 1-800-338-2382, or visit their website at www.hrsa.gov/vaccinecompensation.
7. How can I learn more?
• Ask your provider. They can give you the vaccine package insert or suggest other sources of information.
• Call your local or state health department.
• Contact the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):