What is Hepatitis A?
Hepatitis A is a virus that attacks the liver. It is spread though food and water contaminated by the feces of an infected person. It is more common in developing countries with poor sanitary conditions. It is one of the most common vaccine-preventable infections acquired during travel.
Infection with Hepatitis A may cause no symptoms or range in severity from mild illness to a severe disease lasting several months. Symptoms may include sudden fever, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dark-coloured urine and jaundice (yellowing of the skin and whites of eyes). The chance of having symptoms and the severity of the disease increases with age.
How can I prevent Hepatitis A?
Receiving the Hepatitis A vaccine is the best way to prevent infection of Hepatitis A. The vaccine is available on its own or in combination with Hepatitis B (Twinrix).
Who should receive the Hepatitis A vaccine?
The Hepatitis A vaccine is provided free to Aboriginal children from 6 months to 18 years of age; individuals at high risk of Hepatitis A infection such as men who have sex with men, injection drug users, and individuals with chronic liver disease (for a complete list of vaccine eligibility please visit www.healthlinkbc.ca).
The vaccine is recommended but not provided free to:
- Individuals who are traveling to countries where Hepatitis A is a risk
- Food handlers
Hepatitis A vaccine schedule:
The Hepatitis A vaccine is given in 2 doses between 6 to 12 months apart to individuals 6 months of age and older.
The Twinrix vaccine (Hepatitis A & Hepatitis B combined) is given in 3 doses at 0, 1 and 6 months.
Protection lasts for at least 20 years after the vaccine series is complete. There is no recommendation for a booster.
Call us at 604-251-1975 to arrange an appointment or to receive further information about the Hepatitis A vaccine.