This medication is used to help prevent infection from the hepatitis A virus. Hepatitis A infection can be mild with no symptoms or a severe illness that can rarely cause liver failure and death. Preventing infection can prevent these problems.
Hepatitis A vaccine is made from whole, killed hepatitis A virus. It does not contain live virus, so you cannot get hepatitis from the vaccine. This vaccine works by helping the body produce immunity (through antibody production) that will prevent you from getting infection from hepatitis A virus. Hepatitis A vaccine does not protect you from other virus infections (such as HIV virus, which causes AIDS; hepatitis B, hepatitis C or hepatitis E; HPV virus, which causes genital warts and other problems).
The vaccine is recommended for people aged 12 months and older, especially those at an increased risk of getting the infection. Those at an increased risk include people who live with or spend much time with people with hepatitis A infections, institutional or daycare workers, lab workers, people with multiple sex partners, men who have sex with men, sex workers, injecting and non-injecting drug abusers, and people traveling to high-risk areas.
This vaccine is usually given by injection into a muscle by a health care professional. Adults and children usually receive the injection in the upper arm, and infants receive it in the upper thigh.
A series of 2 injections is usually given over a 6- to 18-month period. Your doctor will give you a vaccination schedule, which must be followed closely for best effectiveness. If you have an illness with fever at the time a vaccination is scheduled, your doctor may choose to delay the injection until you are better.
The dosage is based on your age. Different brands of hepatitis A vaccine are available and may be given differently. Make sure that you receive the same brand for each injection.
For people who cannot get the vaccine before traveling or for whom the vaccine might not work, your doctor may also give an injection of immune globulin. Immune globulin contains antibodies against the hepatitis A virus and will immediately help protect you from developing an infection. However, these antibodies last only a few months. For proper protection, it is important to carefully follow your vaccination schedule.
Infrequently, temporary symptoms such as fainting/dizziness/lightheadedness, vision changes, numbness/tingling, or seizure-like movements have happened after vaccine injections. Tell your health care provider right away if you have any of these symptoms soon after receiving an injection. Sitting or lying down may relieve symptoms.
Remember that your doctor has prescribed this medication because he or she has judged that the benefit to you is greater than the risk of side effects. Many people using this medication do not have serious side effects. Report all side effects to your doctor before you receive the next injection.
Tell your doctor immediately if this rare but serious side effect occurs: seizures.
A very serious allergic reaction to this drug is rare. However, seek immediate medical attention if you notice any symptoms of a serious allergic reaction, including: rash, itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat), severe dizziness, trouble breathing.
This is not a complete list of possible side effects. If you notice other effects not listed above, contact your doctor or pharmacist.
Contact your doctor for medical advice about side effects. The following numbers do not provide medical advice, but in the US, you may report side effects to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) at 1-800-822-7967. In Canada, you may report side effects to Health Canada at 1-866-234-2345.
Before getting hepatitis A vaccine, tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are allergic to it; or if you have any other allergies. This product may contain inactive ingredients (such as neomycin, formalin, latex in some vials/prefilled syringes), which can cause allergic reactions or other problems. Talk to your pharmacist for more details.
Before using this medication, tell your doctor or pharmacist your medical history, especially of: bleeding problems (such as hemophilia, low platelets, anticoagulant treatment), current illness with fever.
If you have decreased immune function from other medications (see also Drug Interactions) or other illness (such as HIV, leukemia, lymphoma, other cancer), your body may not make enough antibodies to protect you from hepatitis A infection. Antibody levels should be checked after the vaccine series.
During pregnancy, this medication should be used only when clearly needed. Discuss the risks and benefits with your doctor.
The effects of some drugs can change if you take other drugs or herbal products at the same time. This can increase your risk for serious side effects or may cause your medications not to work correctly. These drug interactions are possible, but do not always occur. Your doctor or pharmacist can often prevent or manage interactions by changing how you use your medications or by close monitoring.
To help your doctor or pharmacist give you the best care, be sure to tell your doctor or pharmacist about all the products you use (including prescription drugs, nonprescription drugs, and herbal products) before starting treatment with this product. While using this product, do not start, stop, or change the dosage of any other medicines you are using without your doctor's approval.
Some of the products that may interact with this drug include: chemotherapy, corticosteroids (such as prednisone, dexamethasone), drugs that weaken the immune system (such as cyclosporine, tacrolimus, mycophenolate).
Other vaccines may be given at the same time as hepatitis A vaccine, but should be given with separate syringes and at different injection sites.
This document does not contain all possible interactions. Keep a list of all the products you use. Share this list with your doctor and pharmacist to lessen your risk for serious medication problems.
If overdose is suspected, contact a poison control center or emergency room immediately. US residents can call their local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222. Canada residents can call a provincial poison control center.
As with any vaccine, this vaccine may not fully protect everyone who receives it.
Hepatitis A spreads very easily, often through contaminated food or water, infected food handlers, sexual contact with an infected individual, eating raw shellfish from contaminated water, poor sanitary conditions, and rarely by blood transfusions or sharing needles with actively infected people.
Keep vaccine records for yourself and all of your children, and after your children are grown provide their records to them and their doctors. This will prevent unnecessary re-vaccinations.
It is important to receive each vaccination as scheduled. Be sure to ask when each dose should be received and make a note on a calendar to help you remember.
Not applicable. This vaccine is given in a doctor's office and will not be stored at home.
Information last revised May 2014. Copyright(c) 2014 First Databank, Inc.
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