Hepatitis A & Hepatitis A Vaccine Quick Facts
- Hepatitis A is a viral disease of the liver that is contracted through contact with, or by swallowing human fecal waste, generally through eating or drinking contaminated food and/or water.1 The virus is typically spread when people eat or drink something that has been contaminated with the virus;2
- Hepatitis A thrives in areas that lack proper sanitation, clean drinking water or where personal hygiene habits are poor.3 The virus can remain in the environment for several months. Formalin, chlorine, and high temperatures can kill the virus.4 5 Hepatitis A can be found in all areas of the world but is often endemic in Africa, Asia, the Western Pacific, the Middle East, and Central and South America;6
- Symptoms of hepatitis A generally appear between two and seven weeks following exposure to the virus and infected individuals can spread the virus to others for up to two weeks before showing symptoms.7 Symptoms often occur suddenly and may include fatigue, abdominal and/or joint pain, loss of appetite, fever, nausea, jaundice, dark urine, clay-colored bowel movements, and diarrhea. Younger children often show no clinical symptoms of infection. Only lab testing can confirm a diagnosis of hepatitis A;8
- Complications and deaths from hepatitis A are rare9 and most infected individuals recover fully within two months. In approximately 10 to 15 percent of individuals, symptoms may last up to six months.10
Hepatitis A Vaccine
- There are three hepatitis A containing vaccines available for use in the United States. VAQTA,11 an inactivated hepatitis A virus vaccine, manufactured by Merck; HAVRIX,12 an inactivated hepatitis A virus vaccine manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline; and TWINRIX,13 a combination vaccine containing both inactivated hepatitis A virus vaccine (HAVRIX) and recombinant hepatitis B vaccine (ENGERIX-B), manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline. The CDC recommends that children receive two doses of hepatitis A vaccine with the first dose administered between the ages of 12 and 23 months, and the second dose given 6 months later;14
- Common side effects from the hepatitis A vaccine include soreness around injection site, headache, low-grade fever, and fatigue.15 Reported serious side effects following hepatitis A (VAQTA, HAVRIX, & TWINRIX) vaccination include anaphylaxis, thrombocytopenia, encephalopathy, multiple sclerosis, Guillain-Barre Syndrome, and more;16 17 18
- Sixteen states and the District of Columbia require hepatitis A vaccination for school entry; twenty-two states and the District of Columbia require hepatitis A vaccination for children to be enrolled in a childcare program;19
- Using the MedAlerts search engine, as of June 30, 2020, there have been more than 43,554 reports of hepatitis A vaccine reactions, with over 34 percent (14,844) of reaction occuring in children under 3 years of age. Reports made to the federal Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS) note hospitalizations, injuries and deaths following hepatitis A vaccinations, including 153 related deaths, 3,423 hospitalizations, and 917 related disabilities;
- On December 1, 2004, hepatitis A vaccine was added to the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program's (VICP) Vaccine Injury Table, as published in the Federal Register. As of Aug 1, 2020, there had been 160 claims filed in the federal Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) for injuries and deaths following hepatitis A vaccination, including 7 deaths and 153 serious injuries.
Food & Drug Administration (FDA)
Centers for Disease Control (CDC)
Vaccine Reaction Symptoms & Ingredients
Our Ask 8, If You Vaccinate webpage contains vaccine reaction symptoms and more.
Search for Vaccine Reactions
NVIC hosts MedAlerts, a powerful VAERS database search engine. MedAlerts examines symptoms, reactions, vaccines, dates, places, and more.
Reporting a Vaccine Reaction
Since 1982 NVIC has operated a Vaccine Reaction Registry, which has served as a watchdog on VAERS. Reporting vaccine reactions to VAERS is the law. If your doctor will not report a reaction, you have the right to report a suspected vaccine reaction to VAERS is the law.
IMPORTANT NOTE: NVIC encourages you to become fully informed about Hepatitis A and the Hepatitis A vaccine by reading all sections in the Table of Contents, which contain many links and resources such as the manufacturer product information inserts, and to speak with one or more trusted health care professionals before making a vaccination decision for yourself or your child. This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice.
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1 MedlinePlus Hepatitis A Feb 7, 2019
2 WebMD Hepatitis A FAQ. Nov. 14, 2018
3 WHO Hepatitis A Sep. 19, 2018
4 CDC Hepatitis A – Hepatitis A Virus Epidemiology and Prevention of Vaccine-Preventable Diseases (The Pink Book). 13th ed. 2015.
5 CDC Hepatitis A Questions and Answers for Health Professionals - How is the hepatitis A virus (HAV) killed? May 8, 2019
6 CDC Hepatitis A – Epidemiology Epidemiology and Prevention of Vaccine-Preventable Diseases (The Pink Book). 13th ed. 2015.
7 CDC Hepatitis A Questions and Answers for the Public- Symptoms. Mar. 13, 2019
8 CDC Hepatitis A – Laboratory Diagnosis Epidemiology and Prevention of Vaccine-Preventable Diseases (The Pink Book). 13th ed. 2015.
9 CDC Hepatitis A – Complications Epidemiology and Prevention of Vaccine-Preventable Diseases (The Pink Book). 13th ed. 2015.
10 CDC Hepatitis A Questions and Answers for Health Professionals. When symptoms occur, how long do they last? May 8, 2019
11 FDA VAQTA Product Insert Dec. 20, 2018
12 FDA HAVRIX Product Insert Dec. 19, 2018
13 FDA TWINRIX Product Insert Dec. 18, 2018
14 CDC Hepatitis A VIS July 20, 2016
16 FDA VAQTA Product Insert Dec. 20, 2018
17 FDA HAVRIX Product Insert Dec. 19, 2018
18 FDA TWINRIX Product Insert Dec. 18, 2018
19 Immunization Action Coalition State Information - Hepatitis A Vaccine Mandates for Children in Daycare Facilities, Elementary, and Secondary Schools. Nov. 11, 2018