Hepatitis A Vaccine

Who Should Either Avoid or Wait to Get the Hepatitis A Vaccine?

You should not get the hepatitis A vaccine if:
  • You have had a severe (life-threatening) allergic reaction to a previous dose of the vaccine.
  • You have had a severe (life-threatening) allergy to any vaccine component. Tell your healthcare provider if you have any severe allergies.
If you are moderately or severely ill at the time you are scheduled to receive the shot, you should wait until you have recovered before getting the hepatitis A vaccine. However, ask your doctor or nurse. People with a mild illness can usually get the vaccine.
Be sure to tell your healthcare provider if you are pregnant before getting the vaccine. The safety of hepatitis A vaccine for pregnant women has not been determined; however, there is no evidence that it is harmful to either pregnant women or their unborn babies. The risk, if any, is thought to be very low.

How Long Does the Vaccine Last?

If you are vaccinated and develop antibodies, you will be protected against hepatitis A for at least 20 years. If you are unsure about whether or not you have been vaccinated, ask your healthcare provider to check if you have antibodies in your blood to protect you against the virus. Vaccination is the best form of hepatitis A prevention.

Recent Exposure

If you were recently exposed to the hepatitis A virus, you may still get temporary protection with a shot of immunoglobulin (IG), which is a mixture of antibodies. It may protect you from the virus for three to five months. It works best if given within two weeks after exposure. At the same time, you should begin the hepatitis A vaccine shots.
If you are traveling within a month to places that have high rates of hepatitis A infection, and if you have not already received the vaccine, a shot of IG may protect you.
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