Hepatitis A

What does the hepatitis A vaccine do?

This vaccine, called HAVRIX® or VAQTA®, protects you against a type of liver infection called Hepatitis A — it will not protect you against other forms of hepatitis. The vaccine is made from smaller pieces of the Hepatitis A virus, which helps your body learn to attack Hepatitis A if you are exposed to it. The Hepatitis A vaccine is highly effective in providing protection against infection.

How many doses will I need?

You’ll need two vaccinations to make sure you’re completely protected against the disease — both of which are given as a shot in your arm. After receiving the first vaccination, children and adults should have a booster vaccination in another six to 12 months. Within two to four weeks after getting your first dose, you should be protected against Hepatitis A.

Who is the vaccine recommended for?

  • All children older than the age of one
  • Those who travel or work in high-risk countries including Africa, Asia (except Japan), the Mediterranean, Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Central and South America, Mexico, and parts of the Caribbean

The Hepatitis A vaccine is also recommended for those considered at high risk, including:

  • People who use injectable drugs
  • 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
  • Men who have sex with other men
  • Employees of child day care centers
  • People who care for patients living in long-term nursing homes and other facilities

Who should not receive the vaccine?

  • If you’ve recovered from Hepatitis A, you are immune for life and do not need the vaccine
  • People who are allergic to the components of the vaccine
  • Children younger than the age of one
  • Pregnant or nursing mothers
  • Those who are sick or have a fever should wait until the illness goes away

Are there any side effects associated with the vaccine?

Most people have little-to-no side effects from the vaccine, and if they do, they are minor. The most common side effect of the vaccine is a pain at the injection site. Severe problems are rare and are usually a result of an allergic reaction to part of the vaccine. These rare but possible side effects include redness, swelling or bruising at the injection site, headache, fever, fatigue, muscle aches, nausea, and loss of appetite.