This vaccine 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 health care professional 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.
Get medical help right away if you have any very serious side effects, including: seizures.
A very serious allergic reaction to this drug is rare. However, get medical help right away 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 the 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 call the Vaccine Safety Section at Public Health Agency of Canada at 1-866-844-0018.
Before getting hepatitis A vaccine, tell your health care professional 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 receiving this vaccine, tell your health care professional 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 vaccine should be used only when clearly needed. Discuss the risks and benefits with your doctor.
Drug interactions may change how your medications work or increase your risk for serious side effects. This document does not contain all possible drug interactions. Keep a list of all the products you use (including prescription/nonprescription drugs and herbal products) and share it with your doctor and pharmacist. Do not start, stop, or change the dosage of any medicines without your doctor's approval.
Some products that may interact with this vaccine 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.
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.
Store in the refrigerator. Do not freeze. Keep all medications away from children and pets.
Do not flush medications down the toilet or pour them into a drain unless instructed to do so. Properly discard this product when it is expired or no longer needed. Consult your pharmacist or local waste disposal company.
Information last revised March 2015. Copyright(c) 2015 First Databank, Inc.
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