Hepatitis A and hepatitis B are two types of hepatitis. (The others are types C, D, and E.) You get them from a viral infection.
Each of those viruses is different. But the diseases they cause are similar. Hepatitis brings liver inflammation, and it can be serious or even life-threatening.
There are safe and effective vaccines that can prevent hepatitis A and B (but not for types C, D, or E). There is also a combination vaccine that guards against hep A and B.
Who Should Get the Hepatitis A Vaccine?
The CDC recommends that all children between ages 12 months and 23 months get this vaccine as well as for any infant aged 6 to 11 months who is traveling internationally.
The following people are also at risk for the disease and should be vaccinated:
- Children and teens through age 18 who live in states or communities that have made this vaccination routine because of a high rate of disease
- Men who have sex with men
- Anyone who uses illegal drugs
- People with chronic (long-term) liver disease
- Anyone treated with blood clotting drugs, such as people with hemophilia
- People who work with HAV-infected primates or in HAV research laboratories. (HAV is like HIV in animals.)
- Travelers to countries where hepatitis A is common. A good source to check is the CDC’s travelers’ health website, which you can search by the country you’re going to.
- People adopting or close to a child adopted from a country where hepatitis A is common
You should not get the vaccine if you're allergic to any ingredients in it or if you had a severe allergic reaction to an earlier dose of it. Tell your doctor or pharmacist about any allergies you have.
If you're pregnant, let your doctor know. The safety of this vaccine for pregnant women is unknown, although the risk is considered to be very low.
Who Should Get the Hepatitis B Vaccine?
The CDC recommends it for all babies, who should get their first dose as newborns.
Other people who need it include:
- People younger than age 19 who haven't been vaccinated
- Anyone who has a sex partner with hepatitis B
- People who are sexually active but aren’t in a long-term relationship in which both partners are monogamous
- Anyone being evaluated or treated for an STD
- Men who have sex with men
- People who share needles used to inject drugs
- Anyone who lives with someone who has hep B
- Anyone whose job routinely puts them at risk for coming in contact with blood or blood-contaminated body fluids
- People with end-stage kidney (renal) disease
- People who live and work in facilities for people who are developmentally disabled
- Travelers to regions with moderate to high rates of hepatitis B
- People with chronic liver disease
- People with HIV infections
You should not get the vaccine if you had a severe allergic reaction to an earlier dose or are allergic to yeast, because yeast is used to make the vaccine.