Hepatitis A can make you feel like you have the flu.
It's caused by a virus that you can catch if you come in close contact with someone who has it. The disease spreads easily if you live with other people, and it's common among young children.
You may also get hep A if you eat or drink something that's got the virus in it. You can cut down on your risk of getting sick if you wash your hands before meals.
Completing the entire hepatitis A vaccination
series protects against HAV for at least 25 years in adults and 14 years in children.2 In adults (people older
than 18 years of age), it is best if the first shot is given at least 4 weeks
before a person may be exposed to the hepatitis A virus. But the vaccine does
provide some protection shortly after the first shot.3
A second shot should be given 6 to 18 months later to prolong protection.
(Immunization with hepatitis A vaccine is recommended for all children
beginning at 1 year of age. Two separate doses are given at least 6 months
apart. The second shot should be given 6 to 18 months after the first
you receive IG instead of the hepatitis A vaccine and are planning an extended stay in an area where hepatitis A
is a problem, you should get a higher dose of IG. You will need to get
additional injections of the same high dose of IG every 3 to 5
Immunoglobulin is made from components of human
blood. There is no risk of getting a blood-borne disease from IG made in the
United States. The safety of IG manufactured in other countries cannot be
If you will be visiting countries where hepatitis A is
a problem and you will be staying for less than 3 months, you will receive
enough protection at a lower cost by choosing the IG injection. But if you plan
to travel abroad on a regular basis, getting the vaccine will save you money long-term.
People who are allergic to the components of the
hepatitis A vaccine and children younger than 1 year of age should receive
When traveling in an area where hepatitis A is a known
problem or where water quality is questionable:
Boil water before you drink it. Bring the water to
a rolling boil for 1 minute. If you are at an elevation of
6562 ft (2000 m) or higher,
boil the water for 3 minutes. Do not drink tap water or well water or beverages
containing ice cubes.
Do not brush your teeth with tap water or
Make sure all foods are cooked well, especially
Don't swim in water
that has not been treated with chlorine.
Don't drink bath or shower
In this article
This information is produced and provided by the National
Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National
Institute via the Internet web site at http://
.gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.
WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise
August 30, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor.
Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this