Hepatitis A Vaccine
What is the hepatitis A vaccine, and who should get one?
There are vaccines that work to prevent infection with hepatitis A virus.
- The vaccines, Havrix and VAQTA, contain no live virus and are very safe. No serious adverse effects have been reported. Some people have some soreness at the injection site for a few days.
- The vaccines are given in a series of 2 shots. The second is given 6-18 months after the first. The shots can be given at the same time as other vaccines.
- Your protection starts about 2-4 weeks after the first shot. The second dose is necessary to ensure long-term protection.
- The vaccines are thought to protect from infection for at least 20 years.
- The vaccines must be given before exposure to the virus. They do not work after exposure.
Not everyone needs to have the hepatitis A vaccines. However, the vaccines are recommended for the following groups:
- People who are likely to be exposed to HAV at work - The only group of workers shown to be at higher risk than the general population is people who work in research laboratories where HAV is stored and handled. Routine vaccination is not recommended for health care workers, food service workers, daycare personnel, and sewage and waste-water workers.
- Individuals visiting developing countries (it must be given at least 4 weeks before the trip)
- Men who have sex with men
- People who use illegal drugs - This group has higher-than-average rates of HAV infection.
- People who are likely to become seriously ill if they are infected with HAV - This includes people with impaired immune systems or chronic liver disease.
- People with blood-clotting disorders who receive clotting factors