Prevention of Hepatitis A
Getting vaccinated and practicing good personal hygiene are the keys to hepatitis A prevention. Other methods include avoiding shellfish that come from contaminated waters, drinking boiled or bottled water in places where there is a risk of contamination, and using condoms correctly every time you have sex. Immunoglobulin can be given to prevent the disease in short-term situations or when exposure has already occurred.
An Overview of Hepatitis A PreventionHepatitis A is an infection caused by the hepatitis A virus. It is most commonly spread by eating or drinking something (or putting something in your mouth, such as a utensil) that has been contaminated with the stool of a person infected with hepatitis A.
However, there are ways to prevent hepatitis A infection. These methods include:
- Getting vaccinated
- Getting immunoglobulin
- Practicing good personal hygiene.
Prevention of Hepatitis A Through VaccinationsThe best way to prevent hepatitis A is to get vaccinated. A vaccine is a drug that you take when you are healthy that keeps you from getting sick. Vaccines teach your body to attack certain viruses, like the hepatitis A virus.
The hepatitis A vaccine is effective and can keep you from ever getting the disease. In fact, it can protect a person against hepatitis A for at least 20 years. The vaccine is given as a series of two injections. Children can get the vaccine after they are a year old; it is recommended that children get the first hepatitis A vaccine shot between 12 and 23 months of age.
Other candidates for vaccination include travelers to developing countries with high rates of hepatitis A and users of illegal drugs.
Side effects associated with the hepatitis A vaccine are usually minor and include:
- Soreness at or around the injection site
- Mild headache
- Feeling tired.
In rare instances, the vaccine may cause a serious problem, such as an allergic reaction.
A combination vaccine exists for hepatitis A and hepatitis B.
(Click Hepatitis A Vaccine for more information.)