Learn About Hepatitis A and B Vaccination

Hepatitis A and B VaccinationBoth Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B are serious viral infections.

Hepatitis A spreads via contact with an infected person’s stool. Often, this happens by consuming food or liquids that were improperly handled and contaminated by the infected person.

Hepatitis B, like Hepatitis C, spreads through bodily fluids and blood. Unprotected sexual encounters, sharing intravenous needles and childbirth (where there is a risk of the infected mother passing the virus to the baby) are all common ways Hepatitis B can spread from an infected person.

Both the Hepatitis A and B vaccines are available to help prevent adults from these diseases. The vaccines trigger a response in your body to develop antibodies against infection, which will help you develop an immunity. If you already have an Hepatitis A or B infection, the vaccine can not be used to treat your infection.

Consider getting vaccinated if you are at risk.

People at risk for Hepatitis A include:

  • People who are traveling to places where Hepatitis A is prevalent.
  • Health care workers and others who have jobs that put them in potential contact with Hepatitis A.
  • People with Hemophilia being treated with clotting-factor concentrates have experienced outbreaks.
  • People living with other chronic liver diseases, such as Hepatitis C.
  • People who use illicit drugs, intravenously or not.
  • Men who engage in sexual activity with other men.

People at risk for Hepatitis B include:

  • People who are traveling to places where Hepatitis B is prevalent.
  • People working in the healthcare profession or have other jobs that puts them in potential contact with human blood.
  • People with chronic liver disease, end-stage kidney disease or Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
  • People who share living spaces with someone infected with Hepatitis B.
  • People who use intravenous drugs.
  • People who are sexually active that have multiple partners.
  • People who have had a Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD).
  • Men who engage in sexual activity with other men.

Hepatitis A Vaccine

This vaccine was created using dead Hepatitis A viruses which prompts production of Hepatitis A antibodies by the immune system. Although it takes 2 to 4 weeks to experience protection by the vaccine against Hepatitis A, in most recipients, the vaccine promoted antibodies to develop immediately. Six months after the first dose was given, a second dose is recommended to provide extended protection.

In the United States, there are two Hepatitis A vaccines currently available, Havrix and Vaqta. The vaccine is administered via injection to the shoulder muscle, and both vaccines are being found to be very effective in providing protection. Twinrix, a combination Hepatitis-b-Hepatitis-a-vaccine injection is also available, promoting antibody formation against both Hepatitis A and B. Twinrix requires three injections over the period of six months.

Hepatitis B Vaccine

Instead of using a dead virus as with the Hepatitis A vaccine, the Hepatitis B vaccine stimulates the immune system to create antibodies by injecting a protein (antigen) into the patient. There are a few Hepatitis B vaccines available in the United States market, including Engerix-B and Recombivax-HB (Hepatitis B vaccine-injection).

Combination vaccines are also available for Hepatitis B. The Hepatitis B Hepatitis A vaccine injection Twinrix protects people from both Hepatitis B and Hepatitis A. The Comvax injection protects against a cause of meningitis, Haemophilus influenzae type b, and Hepatitis B. Pediarix is designed to protect against Polio, Tetanus, Pertussis and Hepatitis B.

Please remember that the effectiveness of a vaccine varies from person to person, but for many people it provides good protection from these diseases.