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Who Should Get Hepatitis Vaccinations?

Since the vaccines were first developed, the hepatitis A and B vaccines have become part of the regular childhood immunization schedule. They are not considered a routine adult immunization.

"When we're talking about adults, I would say yes, get the vaccine if they fit into one of these risk factors" says Poland. "If they don't fit into the risk factors, their risk is so low that there's no compelling reason to do it."

People at risk for hepatitis A include:

  • Anyone traveling to or working in areas where hepatitis A is more widespread.
  • People whose work puts them in potential contact with hepatitis A, such as those who work with the hepatitis A virus in research labs
  • People who are treated with clotting-factor concentrates
  • People who have chronic liver disease
  • People who use recreational (street) drugs, injected or not
  • Men who have sex with men

People at risk for hepatitis B include:

  • Anyone traveling to or working in areas where hepatitis B is more widespread.
  • Health care workers and other people whose job exposes them to human blood
  • People with HIV infection, end-stage kidney disease, or chronic liver disease
  • People who live with someone with hepatitis B
  • People who inject street drugs
  • Sexually active people who have had more than one partner
  • Anyone who has had an STD
  • Men who have sex with men
  • Sex partners of people with hepatitis B

Poland also recommends that the parents and siblings of children adopted from a country where hepatitis A and/or hepatitis B are prevalent also receive these hepatitis vaccinations.

Safety of Hepatitis Vaccines

Hepatitis vaccines have been given to millions of people all across the world without any evidence of serious side effects. "They're very safe, and they're extremely effective," says Poland.

If you are not sure whether you should have hepatitis vaccines, talk with your doctor about your specific concerns.

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