The hepatitis A vaccine helps protect against hepatitis A Hepatitis A Acute hepatitis A is inflammation of the liver that is caused by the hepatitis A virus and that lasts less than 6 months. Hepatitis A is usually spread when people ingest something that has... read more . Typically, hepatitis A is less serious than hepatitis B Hepatitis B, Acute Acute hepatitis B is inflammation of the liver that is caused by the hepatitis B virus and that lasts from a few weeks up to 6 months. Hepatitis B is spread through contact with blood or other... read more . Hepatitis A often causes no symptoms, although it can cause fever, nausea, vomiting, and jaundice and, rarely, leads to severe liver failure and death. Hepatitis A does not lead to chronic hepatitis Overview of Chronic Hepatitis Chronic hepatitis is inflammation of the liver that lasts at least 6 months. Common causes include hepatitis B and C viruses and certain drugs. Most people have no symptoms, but some have vague... read more .
Use of the vaccine has reduced the number of people who become infected.
For more information, see the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) Hepatitis A vaccine information statement.
(See also Overview of Immunization Overview of Immunization Immunization (vaccination) helps the body defend itself against diseases caused by certain bacteria or viruses. Immunity (the ability of the body to defend itself against diseases caused by... read more .)
Administration of Hepatitis A Vaccine
The hepatitis A vaccine is given as an injection into a muscle. As a part of routine childhood vaccination Childhood Vaccination Schedule Most doctors follow the vaccination schedule recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC—see the schedule for infants and children and the schedule for older children... read more , two doses are given to all children: typically at age 12 to 23 months and 6 to 18 months later. Unvaccinated adults can also receive this two-dose vaccine. After the first dose, people are fully protected for 6 to 12 months, and after the second dose, people are protected for at least 14 to 20 years.
A vaccine that combines hepatitis A and hepatitis B vaccine is also available. This vaccine is given as a series of three or four doses in people 18 years of age and older.
The hepatitis A vaccine is recommended for older children and adolescents who were not previously vaccinated. Unvaccinated adults who want to be protected from hepatitis A can also receive the vaccine.
The vaccine is also recommended for people who are at increased risk of getting hepatitis A infection, such as the following:
People who travel to or work in areas where the infection is common
People whose job puts them at risk of exposure (such as people who work with primates infected with hepatitis A virus or who work with the virus in a research laboratory)
People who use illegal drugs (injected or not)
Men who have sex with men
People who have a chronic liver disorder (such as hepatitis B, hepatitis C, cirrhosis, fatty liver disease, alcohol-related liver disease, and autoimmune hepatitis) or high levels of certain liver enzymes in their blood
Healthy adults 40 years of age or under who have recently been exposed to hepatitis A virus
People who are homeless
People who anticipate close contact with an adopted child during the first 60 days after the child arrives in the United States from an area where hepatitis A is common
Pregnant women who are at risk of getting hepatitis A infection during pregnancy (such as women who are international travelers, who use illicit drugs [injected or not], who may be exposed at work, who anticipate close personal contact with an international adopted child, or who are homeless) or who are at risk of getting very sick or dying of hepatitis A virus infection (such as women who have chronic liver disease or HIV infection)
During a hepatitis A outbreak, people 1 year of age or older who are at risk of hepatitis A virus infection should be vaccinated.
If people have a temporary illness, doctors usually wait to give the vaccine until the illness resolves (see also CDC: Who Should NOT Get Vaccinated With These Vaccines?).
Side Effects of Hepatitis A Vaccine
Sometimes the injection site is sore, red, and swollen. No serious side effects have been reported.
The following English-language resources may be useful. Please note that THE MANUAL is not responsible for the content of these resources.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): Information statement about the hepatitis A vaccine
CDC: Information about people who should NOT get vaccinated with hepatitis A vaccine