Hepatitis A infection is a common health problem in most developing countries due to lack of safe drinking water. Hepatitis A infection is generally rare in most developed countries except some outbreaks from hepatitis A carrier or due to consumption of contaminated food from particular source. If you live in a developed country and plan to travel to a country/region where hepatitis A infection is common, you should think of getting vaccinated against hepatitis A.
What is the schedule for hepatitis A vaccine?
Hepatitis A vaccine is given two doses for long lasting protection. The gap between two doses should be at least 6 months. Hepatitis A vaccine can be given along with other vaccines.
Hepatitis A vaccine is not licensed for infants/children of below one year age. The first dose should be given at 12 months through 23 months of age. If a child is aged 2 years and not yet vaccinated, the child should be given hepatitis A vaccine at subsequent visit.
Travelers should get hepatitis A vaccine at least one month prior to visit/travel to areas with high or intermediate prevalence of hepatitis A. If a traveler needs immediate protection from hepatitis A, he/she can take hepatitis A immunoglobulin which gives immediate and temporary protection.
If anybody wants or need protection from hepatitis A, he/she can get vaccinated any time.
Who should get hepatitis A vaccine?
Individuals with following criteria should get hepatitis A vaccine:
- If you live in countries with high or intermediate prevalence of hepatitis A, and there is routine hepatitis A vaccination you should get vaccinated if your age is in between 2 to 18 years of age.
- Individuals traveling to countries/regions with high or intermediate prevalence of hepatitis A should get vaccinated before travel.
- All children between 12 to 23 months of age should get hepatitis A vaccine.
- All homosexual men should get hepatitis A vaccine routinely.
- Individuals using street drugs should get hepatitis A vaccine.
- Individuals with chronic liver disease or receiving clotting factor for treatment.
- If you are working in laboratory those conducts research on hepatic A virus.
- Children and adolescents living in community where outbreak of hepatitis A is occurring.
Who should not get hepatitis A vaccine?
- Individuals who had severe allergic reaction to previous dose of hepatitis A vaccine should not be given second dose.
- If you are allergic to any of the components used for manufacturing the hepatitis A vaccine, you should not get hepatitis A vaccine.
- If a person is seriously ill, he/she should not receive hepatitis A vaccine and wait till recovery from illness for vaccination. Mild illness is generally not a contraindication (and can get hepatitis A vaccine) for receiving hepatitis A vaccine.
- Pregnant women should consult their doctor before taking hepatitis A vaccine. There is very little risk to pregnant women or their unborn baby from hepatitis A vaccine, but the risk is till there, however small may be.