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Viral Hepatitis and Liver Disease

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Should I get the hepatitis A vaccine?

for Veterans and the Public

Should I get the hepatitis A vaccine? - Hepatitis A for Patients

Hepatitis A vaccination is recommended for:

  • Travelers to countries that have high rates of hepatitis A
  • Men who have sex with men
  • People who use injection and non-injection drugs
  • People with recent exposure to hepatitis A
  • People with chronic (lifelong) liver diseases, such as hepatitis B or hepatitis C
  • People with occupational risk for exposure including those who work in settings providing services to adults at high risk for hepatitis A, hepatitis A-infected animals or in a hepatitis A research laboratory
  • People who are experiencing homelessness
  • People at increased risk for severe disease from hepatitis A infection who also have other risk factors
  • People age 19 or older at increased risk for hepatitis A infection, or who are at increased risk for severe disease from hepatitis A infection who also have other risk factors
  • Unvaccinated family members or caregivers of a recent adoptee from countries where hepatitis A is common
  • People who are previously unvaccinated who want to be protected against hepatitis A

Health care providers recommend that all children receive a hepatitis A vaccination at around 1 year of age, but many adults have never received the vaccine because it only became available in 1995.

Health care personnel and patients with the following conditions should discuss the hepatitis A vaccination with their health care provider: pregnancy, immunocompromising conditions, heart disease, chronic lung disease, chronic alcoholism, asplenia, kidney failure.

You should NOT get the hepatitis A vaccination or you should wait, if you:

  • Had a serious allergic reaction to a previous hepatitis A vaccination
  • Are moderately or severely ill, with or without fever, at the time the vaccination is scheduled (if you are just mildly ill, ask your provider if it is OK for you to receive the vaccine)

Speak with your VA health care provider to see if you should be vaccinated against hepatitis A.

Should pregnant or breast-feeding women receive the hepatitis A vaccination?

The safety of hepatitis A vaccination during pregnancy has not been determined; however, because hepatitis A vaccine is produced from inactivated virus, the risk to the developing fetus is probably low. The hepatitis A vaccination appears safe for women during breastfeeding and their infants. The risk associated with hepatitis A vaccine should be discussed with your health care provider to determine if vaccination is right for you.