Hepatitis A (cont.)

How can I avoid getting hepatitis A?

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You can avoid getting hepatitis A by receiving the hepatitis A vaccine.

Vaccines are medicines that keep you from getting sick. Vaccines teach the body to attack specific viruses and infections. The hepatitis A vaccine teaches your body to attack the hepatitis A virus.

The hepatitis A vaccine is given in two shots. The second shot is given 6 to 12 months after the first shot. You should get both hepatitis A vaccine shots to be fully protected.

All children should be vaccinated between 12 and 23 months of age. Discuss the hepatitis A vaccine with your child's doctor.

Adults at higher risk of getting hepatitis A and people with chronic liver disease should also be vaccinated.

If you are traveling to countries where hepatitis A is common, including Mexico, try to get both shots before you go. If you don't have time to get both shots before you travel, get the first shot as soon as possible. Most people gain some protection within 2 weeks after the first shot.

You can also protect yourself and others from hepatitis A if you

  • always wash your hands with warm, soapy water after using the toilet or changing diapers and before fixing food or eating
  • use bottled water for drinking, making ice cubes, and washing fruits and vegetables when you are in a developing country
  • tell your doctor and your dentist if you have hepatitis A

What should I do if I think I have been exposed to the hepatitis A virus?

See your doctor right away if you think you have been in contact with the hepatitis A virus. A dose of the hepatitis A vaccine or a medicine called hepatitis A immune globulin may protect you from getting sick if taken shortly after coming into contact with the hepatitis A virus.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 12/19/2012

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Hepatitis A - Causes Question: If known, how did you contract hepatitis A? Please discuss possible causes.
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Hepatitis A - Vaccine Question: Has your child been vaccinated for hepatitis A? Please share your experience.

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