Hepatitis A is a serious liver disease caused by the Hepatitis A Virus (HAV). It is usually found in the stool of a person infected with HAV and can be transmitted by close, personal contact, as well as by eating food or drinking liquid contaminated with HAV.
HAV causes â€œflu-likeâ€ symptoms, jaundice, and severe stomach pains and diarrhea. Usually those with HAV have to be hospitalized, and in some cases, those with HAV die as a result of the virus.
HAV is easily spread to others within their household so when one becomes infected, it is hard to avoid others becoming infected by Hepatitis A.
Hepatitis A Vaccines
The Hepatitis A vaccine can prevent HAV. For children, the first dose is given 1 year-2 years of age, though children over 2 years can still receive the vaccine. Travelers can be given the vaccine about one month before traveling, using an immune globulin given less than a month prior to travel to provide temporary protection.
The vaccine is given in two doses. These doses can be started at any time and are usually given about 6 months apart. It can also be given with other vaccines.
Hepatitis vaccines are not for children under 1 year of age.
Risks of Hepatitis A Vaccine
As with all medications, some people experience allergic reactions. Signs of an allergic reaction include high fever, behavioral changes, difficulty breathing, wheezing, hoarseness, hives, paleness, weakness, quickened heartbeat, and dizziness. If any of these symptoms occur, contact your health care provider immediately and seek medical attention.
Mild risks include soreness at the injection site, headache, loss of appetite, and tiredness, which usually last 1-2 days.
Is the vaccine right for you?
The HAV vaccine is intended for:
Â· All children over 1 year of age
Â· Those traveling to a country in which HAV is prevalent
Â· Those who live in areas where HAV is prevalent
Â· Men who have sex with men
Â· Persons who use street drugs
Â· Persons with chronic liver disease
Â· Persons being treated for clotting factor concentrates
Â· Persons who work in areas where HAV is present
Talk to your health care provider before receiving the HAV vaccine if you have had an allergic reaction to a previous dose of HAV, have an allergy to a component of the HAV vaccine, are moderately to severely ill, or are or may become pregnant.
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