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Viral Hepatitis

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Should I get the hepatitis A vaccine?

for Veterans and the Public

Should I get the hepatitis A vaccine?

You may need the vaccination against hepatitis A if you have not previously been vaccinated against hepatitis A and you have any of the following reasons for receiving the vaccination:

  • Chronic hepatitis C
  • Chronic hepatitis B
  • Alcoholic hepatitis
  • Cirrhosis or liver fibrosis
  • Other chronic liver disease
  • Findings consistent with liver disease (such as esophageal varices)
  • Clotting factor disorder
  • HIV infection
  • Use of injection drugs
  • Use of non-injection street or illicit drugs
  • Are a man who has sex with other men
  • Are awaiting or have received a liver transplant
  • Work with primates that are infected with hepatitis A or work in a research laboratory where the virus is present
  • Travel, work, or live in areas or communities where there are high or moderate rates of hepatitis A infection (these tend to be developing countries such as certain parts of Africa, Asia, and Central and South America)
  • Are planning to adopt, care for, or live in a household with a child from a country where hepatitis A is common

Health care personnel and patients with the following conditions should discuss the hepatitis A vaccination with their health care provider: pregnancy, immunocompromising conditions, HIV infection, heart disease, chronic lung disease, chronic alcoholism, asplenia, kidney failure.

You should NOT get the hepatitis A vaccination or you should wait, if you:

  • Had a serious allergic reaction to a previous hepatitis A vaccination
  • Are moderately or severely ill, with or without fever, at the time the vaccination is scheduled (if you are just mildly ill, ask your doctor or nurse if it is OK for you to receive the vaccine)

Speak with your VA health care provider to see if you should be vaccinated against hepatitis A.

Should pregnant or breast-feeding women receive the hepatitis A vaccination?

The safety of hepatitis A vaccination during pregnancy has not been determined; however, because hepatitis A vaccine is produced from inactivated virus, the risk to the developing fetus is probably low. The risk associated with hepatitis A vaccine should be discussed with your health care provider to determine if vaccination is right for you.