Hepatitis A Vaccine - Hep A
What You Need to Know
Hepatitis A is a serious liver disease. It is caused by the hepatitis A virus (HAV). HAV is spread from person to person through contact with the feces (stool) of people who are infected, which can easily happen if someone does not wash his or her hands properly. You can also get hepatitis A from food, water, or objects contaminated with HAV.
Symptoms of hepatitis A can include:
- fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, and/or joint pain
- severe stomach pains and diarrhea (mainly in children), or
- jaundice (yellow skin or eyes, dark urine, clay-colored bowel movements).
These symptoms usually appear 2 to 6 weeks after exposure and usually last less than 2 months, although some people can be ill for as long as 6 months. If you have hepatitis A you may be too ill to work.
Why you should vaccinate your child
Children often do not have symptoms, but most adults do. You can spread HAV without having symptoms.
Hep A can cause liver failure and death, although this is rare and occurs more commonly in persons 50 years of age or older and persons with other liver diseases, such as hepatitis B or C.
The immunization facts show that these vaccines have lowered the number of reported cases each year in the US since they were recommended beginning in 1996. The number has dropped from around 31,000 cases to fewer than 1,500 cases. Hep A vaccine can prevent the disease.
Hepatitis A Vaccine
Hep A vaccine is an inactivated (killed) vaccine. You will need 2 doses for long-lasting protection. These doses should be given at least 6 months apart.
Children are routinely vaccinated between their first and second birthdays (12 through 23 months of age). Older children and adolescents can get the vaccine after 23 months. Adults who have not been vaccinated previously and want to be protected against hepatitis A can also get the vaccine.
Ask your healthcare provider if you want more information about any of these groups.
There are no known risks to getting the vaccine at the same time as other vaccines.
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