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hepatitis A adult vaccine

Pronunciation: HEP a TYE tis

Brand: Havrix, Vaqta

What is the most important information I should know about hepatitis A vaccine?

Hepatitis A vaccine will not protect you against infection with hepatitis B, C, and E, or other viruses that affect the liver. It may also not protect you from hepatitis A if you are already infected with the virus, even if you do not yet show symptoms.

You will most likely receive 2 separate injections of the hepatitis A vaccine at 6 months apart, depending on your exposure or risk of infection. Children should receive their first hepatitis A vaccine between 12 months and 23 months of age.

Your individual booster schedule may be different from these guidelines. Follow your doctor's instructions or the schedule recommended by the health department of the state you live in.

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Vaccination with hepatitis A adult vaccine is recommended for all adults who travel in certain areas of the world where hepatitis A is a common disease.

Other risk factors for hepatitis include: being a homosexual male; having chronic liver disease; using intravenous (IV) drugs; receiving treatment for hemophilia or other bleeding disorders; working in a research laboratory or around animals (especially monkeys) where you may be exposed to the hepatitis A virus; or being in an area where there has been an outbreak of hepatitis A.

Be sure you receive all recommended doses of this vaccine. If you do not receive the full series of vaccines, you may not be fully protected against the disease.

You can still receive a vaccine if you have a cold or fever. In the case of a more severe illness with a fever or any type of infection, wait until you get better before receiving this vaccine.

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You should not receive a booster vaccine if you had a life-threatening allergic reaction after the first shot.

Keep track of any and all side effects you have after receiving this vaccine. When you receive a booster dose, you will need to tell the doctor if the previous shots caused any side effects.

Becoming infected with hepatitis A is much more dangerous to your health than receiving the vaccine to protect against it. Like any medicine, this vaccine can cause side effects, but the risk of serious side effects is extremely low.

What is hepatitis A vaccine?

Hepatitis is a serious disease caused by a virus. Hepatitis A is spread through contact with the stool (bowel movements) of a person infected with the hepatitis A virus. This usually occurs by eating food or drinking water that has become contaminated as a result of handling by an infected person.

Hepatitis causes inflammation of the liver, vomiting, and jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes). Hepatitis can lead to liver cancer, cirrhosis, or death.

The hepatitis A adult vaccine is used to help prevent this disease in adults. The vaccine works by exposing you to a small amount of the virus, which causes the body to develop immunity to the disease. This vaccine will not treat an active infection that has already developed in the body.

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Vaccination with hepatitis A adult vaccine is recommended for all adults who travel in certain areas of the world where hepatitis A is a common disease.

Other risk factors for hepatitis include: being a homosexual male; having chronic liver disease; using intravenous (IV) drugs; receiving treatment for hemophilia or other bleeding disorders; working in a research laboratory or around animals (especially monkeys) where you may be exposed to the hepatitis A virus; or being in an area where there has been an outbreak of hepatitis A.

Like any vaccine, the hepatitis A vaccine may not provide protection from disease in every person.

What should I discuss with my healthcare provider before receiving this vaccine?

Hepatitis A vaccine will not protect you against infection with hepatitis B, C, and E, or other viruses that affect the liver. It may also not protect you from hepatitis A if you are already infected with the virus, even if you do not yet show symptoms.

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You should not receive this vaccine if you have ever had a life-threatening allergic reaction to any vaccine containing hepatitis A, or if you have received cancer chemotherapy or radiation treatment in the past 3 months.

Before receiving this vaccine, tell your doctor if you have:

  • a bleeding or blood clotting disorder such as hemophilia or easy bruising;
  • a history of seizures;
  • a neurologic disorder or disease affecting the brain;
  • an allergy to latex rubber;
  • a weak immune system caused by disease, bone marrow transplant, or by using certain medicines or receiving cancer treatments; or
  • if you are taking a blood thinner such as warfarin (Coumadin).

You can still receive a vaccine if you have a cold or fever. In the case of a more severe illness with a fever or any type of infection, wait until you get better before receiving this vaccine.

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Before receiving the hepatitis A vaccine, tell your doctor if you are pregnant.

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It is not known if hepatitis A vaccine passes into breast milk or if it could harm a nursing baby. Tell your doctor if you are breast-feeding a baby.

How is this vaccine given?

This vaccine is given as an injection (shot) into a muscle. You will receive this injection in a doctor's office or other clinic setting.

You will most likely receive 2 separate injections of the hepatitis A vaccine at 6 months apart, depending on your exposure or risk of infection.

To prevent hepatitis A while traveling, you should receive this vaccine at least 2 weeks before your trip. Your healthcare provider will determine the best dosing schedule for your situation.

Your doctor may recommend treating fever and pain with an aspirin-free pain reliever such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil, and others) when the shot is given and for the next 24 hours. Follow the label directions or your doctor's instructions about how much of this medicine to take.

It is especially important to prevent fever from occurring if you have a seizure disorder such as epilepsy.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Contact your doctor if you will miss a hepatitis A vaccine dose or if you get behind schedule. The next dose should be given as soon as possible. There is no need to start over.

Be sure to receive all recommended doses of this vaccine. If you do not receive the full series of vaccines, you may not be fully protected against the disease.

What happens if I overdose?

An overdose of hepatitis A vaccine is unlikely to occur.

What should I avoid before or after getting this vaccine?

There are no restrictions on food, beverages, or activity before or after receiving this vaccine, unless your doctor has told you otherwise.

What are the possible side effects of hepatitis A vaccine?

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You should not receive a booster vaccine if you have ever had a life-threatening allergic reaction after the first shot.

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Keep track of any and all side effects you have after receiving this vaccine. When you receive a booster dose, you will need to tell the doctor if the previous shots caused any side effects.

Becoming infected with hepatitis A is much more dangerous to your health than receiving the vaccine to protect against it. Like any medicine, this vaccine can cause side effects, but the risk of serious side effects is extremely low.

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Call your doctor at once if you have any of these serious side effects:

  • high fever;
  • fast or uneven heartbeats; or
  • behavior changes.

Less serious side effects include:

  • low fever;
  • headache;
  • dizziness, tired feeling;
  • nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, diarrhea, loss of appetite;
  • joint pain;
  • sore throat; or
  • swelling, redness, or a hard lump where the shot was given.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report vaccine side effects to the US Department of Health and Human Services at 1-800-822-7967.

What other drugs will affect hepatitis A vaccine?

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Before receiving this vaccine, tell the doctor about all other vaccines you have recently received.

Also tell the doctor if you have recently received drugs or treatments that can weaken the immune system, including:

  • an oral, nasal, inhaled, or injectable steroid medicine;
  • medications to treat psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, or other autoimmune disorders, such as azathioprine (Imuran), efalizumab (Raptiva), etanercept (Enbrel), leflunomide (Arava), and others; or
  • medicines to treat or prevent organ transplant rejection, such as basiliximab (Simulect), cyclosporine (Sandimmune, Neoral, Gengraf), muromonab-CD3 (Orthoclone), mycophenolate mofetil (CellCept), sirolimus (Rapamune), or tacrolimus (Prograf).

If you are using any of these medications, you may not be able to receive the vaccine, or may need to wait until the other treatments are finished.

There may be other drugs that can affect this vaccine. Tell your doctor about all the prescription and over-the-counter medications you have received. This includes vitamins, minerals, herbal products, and drugs prescribed by other doctors. Do not start using a new medication without telling your doctor.

Where can I get more information?

Your doctor or pharmacist may have information about this vaccine written for health professionals that you may read. You may also find additional information from your local health department or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.

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