How long does a hep A vaccine last?
Vaccines are an important part of staying healthy and preventing the spread of disease. One of the most commonly recommended vaccines is for Hepatitis A, which is a liver infection caused by the hepatitis A virus (HAV).
While it is generally considered to be a mild illness, it can cause serious complications if left untreated. So, how long does a hep A vaccine last? We’ll break it down for you here.
What Is Hepatitis A?
Hepatitis A is an infectious liver disease caused by the HAV virus. It is primarily spread through contaminated food or water, or through close contact with someone with the virus.
Symptoms can range from mild to severe, including fever, fatigue, nausea, and abdominal pain. In some cases, it can lead to more serious health problems, such as liver damage and even death.
How Long Does the Vaccine Last?
The good news is that once you have received all necessary doses of the hepatitis A vaccine, your protection will last for life. This means that if you receive two doses at least six months apart, you are protected for life from contracting hepatitis A.
That being said, there are certain situations when receiving another dose may be recommended. For example, people who work in settings where they are likely to come into contact with an infected person (i.e., healthcare workers) should consider getting a booster shot every 10 years as a precautionary measure.
What Are The Side Effects?
As with any medical procedure or injection, there may be side effects associated with getting the Hepatitis A vaccine.
Common side effects include soreness or redness at the injection site as well as mild fever and/or headache, which usually resolve within 24 hours after vaccination.
Additionally, some people may experience fatigue or muscle aches for up to 3 days after receiving their injection.
However, these side effects are generally mild and do not last very long; more serious reactions are rare (less than 1%).
Different Types of Hepatitis A Vaccination
To prevent infection, health professionals recommend getting vaccinated with inactivated hepatitis A vaccine. Below will provide an overview of the different types of vaccines available and how they protect against HAV.
Inactivated Hepatitis A Vaccine
Inactivated hepatitis A vaccines are the most commonly used type of vaccine in countries where HAV is endemic and/or there is an increased risk of transmission.
Inactivated vaccines are made from killed hepatitis A viruses and can be given as either a single dose or two separate doses one month apart, followed by a booster dose 6 to 12 months after the last dose.
These vaccines can be given to both children and adults over 2 years old, including those with chronic liver disease or other medical conditions that increase the risk of infection.
Combined Hepatitis A & B Vaccines
Combined hepatitis A & B vaccines contain both inactivated hepatitis A and recombinant (genetically engineered) hepatitis B viruses, which protect against both diseases at once.
These vaccines require three separate doses over a six-month period, with a booster dose given one year after the last dose for long-term protection against both viruses.
Combined vaccines can be used for immunization of children over the age of 12 months and adults who may have increased risk due to their lifestyle or occupation.
How Do The Vaccines Protect Against HAV?
The vaccine protects against acute hepatitis by stimulating your body's immune system to produce antibodies that fight off the virus if you come into contact with someone who has been infected or if you consume contaminated food or water.
The antibodies remain in your body for many years, providing long-term protection against acute hepatitis and reducing your risk of developing chronic hepatitis caused by the virus infection.
It's important to note that these vaccines do not protect against other forms of viral hepatitis such as HIV or HBV (hepatitis B virus), so it’s important to discuss any potential risks with your healthcare provider before receiving any vaccination.
How to Avoid Hepatitis A Virus Infections?
Prevention of the virus is key to avoiding infection and chronic liver disease. Here are some ways you can prevent hepatitis A virus infections.
The best way to prevent getting hepatitis A virus infections is to get vaccinated. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all children get vaccinated against hepatitis A at 1 year old.
Adults who are at risk for hepatitis A should also be vaccinated as soon as possible, including those who use injection or non-injection drugs, have HIV/AIDS, or live with someone who has been diagnosed with the virus.
Vaccinations are available from your doctor or local health department.
Good Hygiene Practices
Good hygiene practices can also help prevent the spread of the virus and help protect you from getting infected with it.
This includes washing your hands thoroughly after using the restroom and before preparing food, as well as not sharing personal items such as eating utensils, toothbrushes, and towels with others.
Additionally, avoid drinking tap water when travelling abroad if you don’t know if it is safe to drink; stick to bottled water instead.
Avoid Risky Behavior
Another way to avoid getting infected with the hepatitis A virus is by avoiding risky behaviours such as sexual contact without protection or using unclean needles when injecting drugs.
If you do engage in these activities, make sure you know your partner’s status and always use a condom or other form of protection during sexual activity and clean needles when injecting drugs.
Getting a Hepatitis test and vaccine is an effective way to protect yourself from this virus infection.
Once you have received your two doses at least six months apart, you will be protected for life and do not need any additional boosters unless working in certain settings where exposure to infected persons is more likely (as mentioned above).
As always, speak with your doctor if you have any questions regarding this vaccine or possible side effects associated with it before deciding whether it's right for you!
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