Protect Yourself with Hepatitis A Vaccine!
Hepatitis A is a contagious liver disease that results from infection with the Hepatitis A virus. It can range from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a severe illness lasting several months. Hepatitis A is usually spread when the Hepatitis A virus is taken in by mouth from contact with objects, food, or drinks contaminated by the feces (or stool) of an infected person.
A person can get Hepatitis A through:
Person to person contact
- When a parent or caregiver does not properly wash his or her hands after changing diapers or
cleaning up the stool of an infected person
- When someone engages in certain sexual activities, such as oral-anal contact with an infected person
Contaminated food or water
- Hepatitis A can be spread by eating or drinking food or water contaminated with the virus when an infected person does not wash his or her hands properly after going to the bathroom and touches other objects or food. This is more likely to occur in countries where Hepatitis A is common and in areas where there are poor sanitary conditions or poor personal hygiene. The food and drinks most likely to be contaminated are fruits, vegetables, shellfish, ice, and water. In the United States, chlorination of water kills Hepatitis A virus that enters the water supply.
Symptoms of Hepatitis A
- Some people with Hepatitis A do not have any symptoms. If you do have symptoms, they usually appear anywhere from 2 to 6 weeks after exposure. Symptoms usually last less than 2 months, although some people can be ill for as long as 6 months. Symptoms usually develop over a period of several days and may include the following:
- Loss of appetite
- Abdominal pain
- Dark urine
- Clay-colored bowel movements
- Joint pain
- Jaundice (a yellowing of the skin or eyes)
Hepatitis A Vaccine
The best way to prevent Hepatitis A is through vaccination with the Hepatitis A vaccine, given in 2 doses spaced 6 months apart. Hepatitis A vaccine also comes in a combination form, containing both Hepatitis A and B vaccine, that can be given to persons 18 years of age and older. This form is given as 3 shots, over a period of 6 months.
Hepatitis A vaccine is recommended for all children, for travelers to certain countries, and for people at high risk for infection with the virus. Frequent hand washing with soap and warm water after using the bathroom, changing a diaper, or before preparing food can help prevent the spread of Hepatitis A. International travelers have a high risk for contracting Hepatitis A due to potential food and beverage contamination. If you are traveling outside of the U.S, visit CDC.gov for more specific information related to Hepatitis A and other information you need before you travel.
Most of the above information was taken from http://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/A/aFAQ.htm .
For more specific information, refer to the Hepatitis A Vaccine Information Statement (VIS) found at
SHOTS, etc. offers a Patient Assistance Program for individuals who have no insurance and who meet financial guidelines. Certain vaccines may be obtained for a nominal injection fee. Visit www.SHOTSetc.com for details.