The hepatitis A vaccine protects you against a type of liver infection called hepatitis A. The vaccine will not protect you from other types of hepatitis.
The vaccine, called Havrix or VAQTA, is made from inactivated whole virus of hepatitis A. The inactive virus stimulates your body to produce antibodies to fight the hepatitis A virus.
The vaccine is given by a shot in your arm. You should be protected against the disease within 2 weeks after receiving the first dose. Two vaccinations are needed to make sure you are completely protected against the disease. After receiving the first vaccination, children and adults should have a booster vaccination in 6 to 12 months.
A vaccine for adults called Twinrix provides protection against both hepatitis A and B. It is given in 3 doses.
WHO SHOULD RECEIVE THIS VACCINE
People who work or travel in areas with high rates of infection should be vaccinated. These areas include Africa, Asia (except Japan), the Mediterranean, Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Central and South America, Mexico, and parts of the Caribbean.
If you are traveling to these areas before you are fully immunized (fewer than 4 weeks after your first shot), you should receive a preventive dose of immunoglobulin (IG). If you are just a short-term traveler to these areas, you may wish to receive the immunoglobulin (IG) instead of the vaccine.
The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends (but does not mandate) routine vaccination of all children older than age 1 with 2 doses of vaccine spaced 6 months apart.
Other people who are at higher risk for hepatitis A include:
An immunoglobulin (IG) shot helps protect people from becoming infected for a short period of time. When traveling to areas where hepatitis A is common, you may be given an IG shot if:
WHO SHOULD NOT RECEIVE THIS VACCINE
If you have had hepatitis A in the past, you do NOT need the vaccine. Once you have recovered from the disease, you are immune for life.
Others who should NOT receive the vaccine include:
SIDE EFFECTS AND RISKS
The most common side effect of the vaccine is pain at the injection site. Other rare, but possible, side effects include:
CALL YOUR PRIMARY HEALTH CARE PROVIDER IF:
Vaccine - hepatitis A; Immunization - hepatitis A; Havrix; VAQTA