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    Hepatitis A vaccine

    Immunization - hepatitis A; Vaccine - HepA; Immunization - HepA

    The hepatitis A vaccine protects against hepatitis Ainfection. This is a serious disease that can damage the liver.


    Hepatitis A infection is caused by the hepatitis A virus.

    Hepatitis A vaccine is called HepA for short. It is made from smaller pieces of the whole hepatitis A virus. After getting the vaccine,the body learns to attack thehepatitis A virusifthe person isexposed to it. As a result,the person isunlikely to get sick with hepatitis A.

    Hepatitis A vaccine does not protectagainst other types of hepatitis. Currently, there is one other hepatitis vaccine, hepatitis B (HepB). Soa personneeds to receive HepB to beprotected against hepatitis B infection.


    If you have had hepatitis Ainfectionin the past, you do not need the vaccine. Once you have recovered from the infection, you are immune for life.


    HepAis one of the recommended childhood vaccines. HepA is given to children 1 year or older as a series of two doses (shots).The second dose is given 6 to 18 months after the first dose.

    Children 2 through 18 years old should get two doses of HepA if they live in an area where many people have hepatitis A infection.


    Adults 19 yearsor older should get the two doses of HepA if they:

    • Work or travel in areas where hepatitis A is common. These areas include Africa, Asia (except Japan), theMediterranean, Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Central and South America, Mexico, and parts of the Caribbean.
    • Use recreational, injectable drugs.
    • Work with the hepatitis A virus in a laboratory or with research animals that are infected with the virus.
    • Have chronic (ongoing)liver disease.
    • Adopt children from a country where many people have hepatitis A.
    • Men who have sex with other men.

    HepA can be received as a vaccine by itself. Or it can be received as a combined vaccine that protects against both hepatitisA and B. Your health care provider can tell youwhich vaccine is right for you or your child.


    • Childrenyounger than age 1.
    • Persons who received a dose of the vaccine and developed an allergy from it.
    • Pregnantwomen should ask their health care provider if the vaccine is safe for them.
    • Persons who are ill with something more severe than a cold or have a fever should reschedule their vaccination until after they are recovered.


    Most persons who get the hepatitis A vaccine have no side effects. Others may have minor problems such as soreness and redness at the injection site or a mild fever. Serious problems are rare and are mainly due to allergic reactions to a part of the vaccine.

    No vaccine works all of the time. It is still possible, though unlikely,to get hepatitis A infection even after receiving all doses (shots) of HepA.


    • You are not sure if a person should getthe hepatitis A vaccine
    • Serious symptoms appear after receiving the vaccine
    • You have questions or concerns about the vaccine


    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) Recommended Immunization Schedules for Persons Aged 0 Through 18 Years and Adults Aged 19 Years and Older- United States, 2013. MMWR. 2013;62(Suppl1):1-19.

    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Vaccine safety and adverse events. Available at Accessed April 19, 2013.

    Orenstein WA, Atkinson WL. Immunization. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 17.


          A Closer Look

            Self Care

            Tests for Hepatitis A vaccine

            Review Date: 2/21/2013

            Reviewed By: Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Blackman, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.

            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. 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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