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Definition:

The hepatitis A vaccine protects you against a type of liver infection called hepatitis A . The vaccine will not protect you from other types of hepatitis.



Alternative Names:

Vaccine - hepatitis A; Immunization - hepatitis A; Havrix; VAQTA



Information:

The vaccine, called Havrix or VAQTA, is made from inactivated whole virus of hepatitis A. The inactive virus stimulates your body to produce antibodies against the hepatitis A virus.

The vaccine is given by a shot in your arm. You should be protected against the disease within 2 weeks after receiving the first dose. Two vaccinations are required to make sure you are completely protected against the disease. After receiving the first vaccination, children and adults should have a booster vaccination in 6 to 12 months.

A vaccine for adults called Twinrix provides protection against both hepatitis A and B. It is given in 3 doses.

WHO SHOULD RECEIVE THIS VACCINE

People who work or travel in areas with high rates of infection should be vaccinated. These areas include Africa, Asia (except Japan), the Mediterranean, Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Central and South America, Mexico, and parts of the Caribbean.

If you are traveling to these areas before you are fully immunized (fewer than 4 weeks after your first shot), you should receive a preventive dose of immunoglobulin (IG). If you are just a short-term traveler to these areas, you may wish to receive the immunoglobulin (IG) instead of the vaccine.

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends (but does not mandate) routine vaccination of all children older than age 1 with 2 doses of vaccine spaced 6 months apart.

Other people who are at higher risk for hepatitis A include:

  • Illegal intravenous drug users
  • People who work with the hepatitis A virus in a laboratory or with primates that may be infected with the virus
  • People who have chronic liver disease
  • People who receive clotting factor concentrate to treat hemophilia or other clotting disorders
  • Military personnel
  • Homosexual or bisexual men
  • Employees of child day-care centers
  • People who care for institutionalized patients

WHO SHOULD NOT RECEIVE THIS VACCINE

If you have had hepatitis A in the past, you do NOT need the vaccine. Once you have recovered from the disease, you are immune for life.

Others who should NOT receive the vaccine include:

  • People who are allergic to the components of the vaccine
  • Children less than 1 year old
  • Pregnant or nursing mothers
  • Those who are are sick or have a fever (can delay receiving the vaccine until the illness goes away)

SIDE EFFECTS AND RISKS

The most common side effect of the vaccine is pain at the injection site. Other rare, but possible, side effects include:

  • Redness, swelling, or bruising at the injection site
  • Headache
  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle aches
  • Nausea
  • Loss of appetite

CALL YOUR PRIMARY HEALTH CARE PROVIDER IF:

  • You develop rash, itching, hives, or difficulty breathing after receiving the vaccine
  • You develop any other symptoms
  • You have other questions or concerns


References:

American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Infectious Diseases. Recommended immunization schedules for children and adolescents--United States, 2008. Pediatrics. 2008;121(1):219-220.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Recommended immunization schedules for persons aged 0–18 Years--United States, 2008. MMWR. 2007;56:Q1-Q4.

Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. Recommended adult immunization schedule: United States, October 2007-September 2008. Ann Intern Med. 2007;147(10):725-729.




Review Date: 8/29/2007
Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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