Hepatitis A vaccine helps prevent hepatitis A, a highly contagious type of liver infection caused by the hepatitis A virus (HAV). Hepatitis A brings liver inflammation, and it can be serious or even life-threatening. HAV is spread from person to person through contact with the feces (stool) of an infected person.
This can easily happen if someone doesn’t wash his or her hands properly. You can also get Hepatitis A from food, water, or objects contaminated with HAV.
How Serious Is Hepatitis A?
People who get hepatitis A may feel sick for a couple of weeks to several months but usually recover completely and don’t have lasting damage. Rarely, hepatitis A can lead to liver failure and even death. This is more common in older people with other serious health issues, such as chronic liver disease.
Hepatitis A in the United States
The Hepatitis A vaccine was first recommended in 1996. Since then, the cases of hepatitis A in the US has declined dramatically. Unfortunately, recent years have seen the number of people infected increase because of multiple hepatitis A outbreaks in the US, resulting from person-to-person contact, especially among drug users, men who have sex with men, and people experiencing homelessness.
How Is Hepatitis A Spread?
The hepatitis virus is found in the blood and stool of infected people and spreads when someone ingests the virus.
Person to Person Contact
Hepatitis A can be spread from close, personal contact with an infected person, such as through certain types of sexual contact (like oral-anal sex), using drugs with others, or caring for someone who is ill. The virus is very contagious, and people can spread the virus before they exhibit symptoms.
Eating Contaminated Food or Drinks
Food contamination with the hepatitis A virus can happen at any point in the food handling process. Contamination of water and food happens more often in countries where hepatitis A is common. Although rare, foodborne outbreaks have occurred in the US from consuming fresh and frozen imported food products.
Who Is at Risk of Hepatitis A?
Although anyone can get hepatitis A, certain groups of people are at higher risk of infection and suffering from severe illnesses if they get hepatitis A.
People at increased risk for Hepatitis A include:
- People with occupational risk for exposure
- People experiencing homelessness
- People who anticipate close personal contact with an international individual, such as an adoptee
- People who use or inject drugs
- Men who have sex with men
- International travelers
- People with increased risk of severe disease from hepatitis A infection
- People with HIV
- People with chronic liver disease, including hepatitis B and hepatitis C
If you think you’ve been exposed to the hepatitis A virus, seek medical attention as soon as possible, ideally within two weeks. A healthcare expert can decide the next steps based on your overall health and age.
Can I Prevent Infection After Exposure to The Hepatitis A Virus?
A single shot of the hepatitis A vaccine can help prevent infection if administered within two weeks of exposure. Depending on your health and age, your physician may recommend immune globulin in addition to the hepatitis A vaccine.
Symptoms of Hepatitis A
Not everyone infected with hepatitis A has symptoms, but adults are more likely to have symptoms than children. If symptoms develop, they usually appear two to seven weeks after infection. Some people can be sick for up to six months, but the symptoms typically last less than two months.
Some of the typical symptoms include:
- Feeling tired
- Yellow eyes or skin
- Poor appetite
- Upset stomach
- Joint pain
- Dark urine or light-colored stools
- Stomach pain
- Throwing up
Who Should Get the Hepatitis A Vaccine?
The following people should be vaccinated against Hepatitis A:
- All children aged 12-23 months
- All children and adolescents 2-18 years of age who have never received the hepatitis A vaccine
- People at increased risk of hepatitis A
- People at increased risk of severe disease from hepatitis A infection
Other people recommended for vaccination include:
- Any person who requests vaccination
- Pregnant women are at risk for hepatitis A or at risk of more severe symptoms from an infection with hepatitis A
Who Should Not Receive the Hepatitis A Vaccine?
People known to be allergic to any part of the hepatitis A vaccine or who have ever had a life-threatening allergic reaction to any part of the hepatitis A vaccine should not receive the vaccine. It’s important to tell your physician if you have any severe allergies. Also, the vaccine is not licensed for use in infants under one year of age.
Hepatitis A Vaccine Side Effects
Most people who get the hepatitis A vaccine don’t have any adverse reactions, but there’s always a chance the vaccine will cause serious injuries or side effects. When the side effects occur, they usually begin soon after injection and may include:
You may suffer from a low-grade fever, tiredness, and fatigue after a vaccine is administered. Symptoms typically last between one to two days.
Shoulder Pain Near the Site of Injection
Patients have often reported pain, redness, or swelling of the upper arm where the shot was given. If your symptom lasts for more than six months, you may have a Shoulder Injury Related to Vaccine Administration (SIRVA.)
Although allergic reactions are rare, they can occur within a few hours after vaccination and can be fatal in some cases. Common signs of a severe allergic reaction to the vaccination include:
- Difficulty breathing or wheezing
- Increased heartbeat
- High fever
- Behavioral changes
- Body weakness
Compensation for Hepatitis A Vaccine Injury
People injured after getting the hepatitis A vaccine can receive compensation through the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP).
Our team at the Law Offices of Sadaka Associates is a law firm experienced in vaccine injury litigation. We help people across the nation who are injured by vaccines to get compensated for unnecessary suffering, medical bills, and lost income due to vaccination.
CIDP AFTER HEPATITIS A VACCINE
$748,258.77 total settlement which includes first-year life care expenses, lost earnings, pain and suffering, and past unreimbursable expenses compensation for a nine year old boy from Wisconsin who developed Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy or CIDP as a result of receiving the Hepatitis A vaccine.
ITP AFTER HEPATITIS A AND FLU VACCINES
$90,000.00 settlement for a three year old girl from Colorado who developed immune thrombocytopenic purpura as a result of the Hepatitis A and influenza vaccines.
BRACHIAL NEURITIS AFTER MULTIPLE VACCINES
$250,000 settlement for adult male who suffered from brachial neuritis after receiving influenza, Tdap, meningococcal, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, IPV, and MMR vaccines.
BRACHIAL NEURITIS AFTER MULTIPLE VACCINES
$250,000.00 settlement for a 19 year old man enlisted in the army, who developed brachial neuritis as a result of receiving the influenza vaccine, tetanus diphtheria accellular pertussis or Tdap vaccine, meningococcal vaccine, hepatitis A and B vaccines, polio inactivated or IPV vaccine, and measles mumps and rubella or MMR vaccine.
MULTIPLE INJURIES AFTER MULTIPLE VACCINES
$35,000.00 settlement for a 31 year old woman from Pennsylvania who developed vaccine-induced anaphylactic reaction, weakness, Parsonage Turner Syndrome, peripheral neuropathy, and transverse myelitis as a result of receiving an influenza, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, polio, and Diphtheria-Tetanus-acellular Pertussis or DTaP vaccinations.