Hepatitis A is a serious liver disease caused by the Hepatitis A Virus (HAV). It can be transmitted by close, personal contact, as well as by eating food or drinking liquid contaminated with HAV.
HAV causes flu-like symptoms, jaundice, and severe stomach pains and diarrhea. Usually those with HAV have to be hospitalized, and in some cases, those with HAV die as a result of the virus.
HAV is easily spread to others within their household so when one becomes infected, it is hard to avoid others becoming infected by Hepatitis A.
Hepatitis A Vaccines
The Hepatitis A vaccine can prevent HAV. For children, the first dose is given 1 year-2 years of age, though children over 2 years can still receive the vaccine. Travelers can be given the vaccine about one month before traveling, using an immune globulin given less than a month prior to travel to provide temporary protection.
The vaccine is given in two doses. These doses can be started at any time and are usually given about 6 months apart. It can also be given with other vaccines.
Hepatitis vaccines are not for children under 1 year of age.
Hepatitis A vaccines were recommended in the United States beginning in 1996. Since then, the number of cases reported each year in the U.S. has dropped from around 31,000 cases to fewer than 1,500 cases.
Risks of Hepatitis A Vaccine
As with all medications, some people experience allergic reactions. Signs of an allergic reaction include high fever, behavioral changes, difficulty breathing, wheezing, hoarseness, hives, paleness, weakness, quickened heartbeat, and dizziness. If any of these symptoms occur, contact your health care provider immediately and seek medical attention.
Mild risks include soreness at the injection site, headache, loss of appetite, and tiredness, which usually last 1-2 days.
Vaccine Injuries are rare, but they are real.