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Hepatitis A Vaccine

By

Margot L. Savoy

, MD, MPH, Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University

Last full review/revision Aug 2019| Content last modified Aug 2019
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NOTE: This is the Consumer Version. DOCTORS: Click here for the Professional Version
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The hepatitis A vaccine helps protect against hepatitis A. Typically, hepatitis A is less serious than hepatitis B. 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.

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.

Administration

The hepatitis A vaccine is given as an injection into a muscle. As a part of routine childhood vaccination, two doses are given to all children: typically at age 12 to 23 months and 6 to 18 months later. After the first dose, people are fully protected for 6 to 12 months, and after the second dose, children are protected at least 14 to 20 years. Adults who completed the vaccine series as children are protected at least 20 years.

The hepatitis A vaccine is also recommended for any adult who wishes protection from hepatitis A and for adults at increased risk of the infection, such as the following:

  • Travelers to areas where the disease is common

  • People who inject illegal drugs

  • Men who have sex with men

  • People who have a chronic liver disorder or blood clotting disorder

  • Healthy adults 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

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

Sometimes the injection site is sore, red, and swollen. No serious side effects have been reported.

More Information

NOTE: This is the Consumer Version. DOCTORS: Click here for the Professional Version
Click here for the Professional Version
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