Hepatitis A Vaccine

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Warner Plaza Urgent Care offers a wide range of vaccinations, including the hepatitis A vaccine.

What Is Hepatitis A?

Hepatitis A, also sometimes colloquially called hep A, is a disease of the liver that’s caused by the Hepatitis A virus. The word “hepatitis” means inflammation of liver. Hepatitis A is among the three most common kinds of viral hepatitis, alongside hepatitis B and hepatitis C. In the United States, Hepatitis A is the rarest of the three most common types of hepatitis but still infects around 4,000 people yearly, according to the CDC

The hepatitis A virus, also known as HAV, is highly contagious. HAV is spread through ingesting the fecal matter of a person infected with the virus, even in microscopic amounts. HAV is usually spread through ingesting contaminated food or water, through ingesting the virus via infected objects, or through close contact with an already infected person.

Unlike hepatitis B and C infections, hepatitis A infections are generally acute (short-term) and symptoms of the disease rarely cause lasting damage to liver health. However, in rare cases, hepatitis A can lead to death. Liver failure and death caused by hepatitis A is more common among people who already have another liver disease and people over the age of 50.

Symptoms of hepatitis A infection are not seen immediately after exposure to HAV. Most adults and adolescents will show symptoms of the disease after the virus’ incubation period but some may be asymptomatic. Children under the age of six are the most likely to be asymptomatic when infected with hepatitis A; very few children under this age who are infected with hepatitis A show symptoms of the disease.

For those who do experience symptoms of hepatitis A infection, these symptoms usually appear between two to six weeks after exposure. The symptoms of the virus can last between a few weeks, for mild cases, and up to six months for those with more severe cases. On average, hepatitis A resolves in less than two months.

Symptoms of hepatitis A infection can include flu-like symptoms, stomach cramps, diarrhea, low appetite, fatigue, vomiting, dark urine, clay-colored stools, joint pain, and jaundice.

Hepatitis A infection can occur only once. Once the body has experienced and recovered from hepatitis A, the body creates antibodies that prevent another hepatitis A infection.

What Is the Hepatitis A Vaccine?

The hepatitis A vaccine is a two-dose dose vaccine that is the best way of preventing hepatitis A virus infection. The vaccine schedule for the hepatitis A vaccine requires that the second dose of the vaccine be given between six and eighteen months after the first. These doses are administered into the arm or thigh muscle. Both doses of the vaccine are needed for full protection from hepatitis A. 

Additionally, the hepatitis A vaccine is available in a combination form. The combination form of the vaccine protects against both hepatitis A and hepatitis B. This vaccine is also a multiple dose injection vaccine, though the combination vaccine requires three shots over a six month period. All three shots are necessary for the best protection from hepatitis A and B.

The exact period of time the hepatitis A vaccine remains effective is currently unknown, though it’s thought that it lasts at least twenty years. This is true for both the singular and combination vaccines.

The immune globulin shot has also been shown to provide short-term protection from hepatitis A. Protection from hepatitis A from the immune globulin shot lasts for about 2 months.

The hepatitis A vaccines and the immune globulin shot can also be used to help protect those who did not previously get either of the hepatitis A vaccines but suspect they may have been exposed to hepatitis A. If given within two weeks of exposure, the hepatitis A vaccines and the immune globulin shot can be effective at preventing hepatitis A.

For those seeking to get one of the hepatitis A vaccines before travel, it’s recommended that your first shot should be given a minimum of two weeks before travel. While this first dose does provide some health protection against hepatitis A, completing a full course of hepatitis A vaccine injections before travel offers the best protection.

Who Should Get the Hepatitis A Vaccine?

The hepatitis A vaccine is recommended for those in all regions of the world. The hepatitis A vaccine can be administered at one year of age. The CDC recommends that all children at receive the vaccine at one year old. However, only the singular version of the hepatitis A vaccines can be given at this young age. The combination form of the vaccine (that also contains a hepatitis B vaccine) can only be given to those aged 18 or older.

Those who are more strongly advised to get one of the hepatitis A vaccines include travelers to countries with a high rate of hepatitis A, families planning to adopt a child from a country with high rates of hepatitis A, users of illegal drugs, people with chronic liver diseases (including hepatitis B and hepatitis C), people who work in hepatitis A research laboratories, people who work with animals infected with hepatitis A, people who are homosexual and identify as male, people with clotting-factor disorders, and people who live in an area where hepatitis A is present.

People who should not get the hepatitis A vaccine include those who are currently moderately to severely ill and those who have a life-threatening allergy to the hepatitis A vaccine or any of its components.

Where Is Hepatitis A Found?

Hepatitis A is found in countries across the world, including the United States, though the virus is more prevalent in certain countries.

Hepatitis A vaccines are more highly recommended for those traveling to or living in certain countries, including Brazil, Cambodia, China, Costa Rica, Ghana, India, Kenya, Mexico, Nigeria, Peru, and Thailand.

Warner Plaza Urgent Care offers the hepatitis A vaccine. To get vaccinated, call to make an appointment, make an appointment online, or come in for a walk-in appointment.

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