The Importance of Hepatitis A Vaccination: A Comprehensive Guide

Why Get Vaccinated?

Hepatitis A is a severe liver disease, usually spread through close contact with an infected person or ingestion of contaminated food or drinks. Symptoms include fatigue, low appetite, stomach pain, nausea, and jaundice. Most adults with hepatitis A exhibit these symptoms, while children under 6 years are often asymptomatic.

An infected person can transmit hepatitis A even without symptoms. Although most people recover entirely, in rare cases, hepatitis A can cause liver failure and death, especially in older adults and those with existing liver diseases.

Hepatitis A vaccination has significantly reduced the prevalence of this disease in the United States, but outbreaks still occur among unvaccinated populations.

The Vaccine

Children require 2 doses of the hepatitis A vaccine: the first dose between 12 to 23 months of age and the second dose at least 6 months after the first. Infants 6 through 11 months old traveling outside the United States should also receive a dose for protection.

The vaccine is not exclusive to children. Adults previously unvaccinated and wishing to protect themselves against hepatitis A can get vaccinated. Additionally, the vaccine is recommended for international travelers, men who have sexual contact with other men, people who use injection or non-injection drugs, and other high-risk groups.

Talk with Your Health Care Provider

It's important to discuss with your healthcare provider before getting the hepatitis A vaccine, particularly if you have had an allergic reaction to a previous dose or any severe, life-threatening allergies. In some cases, vaccination might be postponed until a future visit.

Pregnant or breastfeeding individuals should also be vaccinated if they are at risk. Minor illnesses such as a cold should not prevent vaccination, though those moderately or severely ill should usually wait until recovery.

Risks of a Vaccine Reaction

Soreness or redness where the shot is given, fever, headache, tiredness, or loss of appetite can occur after vaccination. Fainting sometimes occurs after medical procedures, including vaccination. Severe allergic reactions are infrequent but possible.

What if There is a Serious Problem?

In the event of a severe allergic reaction after leaving the clinic, call 9-1-1 and get to the nearest hospital immediately. For other signs of concern, consult your health care provider.

Adverse reactions should be reported to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) is available to compensate those who may have been injured by certain vaccines.

For more information, you can consult your healthcare provider, call your local or state health department, or visit the CDC's vaccines website.

Are a Pediatrician, Pediatric or Family
Nurse Practitioner, Medical Assistant or Medical Receptionist who loves kids and is interested in working with us?

Email your resume to [email protected]