hepatitis A vaccine (Havrix, Vaqta)

  • Pharmacy Author:
    Omudhome Ogbru, PharmD

    Dr. Ogbru received his Doctorate in Pharmacy from the University of the Pacific School of Pharmacy in 1995. He completed a Pharmacy Practice Residency at the University of Arizona/University Medical Center in 1996. He was a Professor of Pharmacy Practice and a Regional Clerkship Coordinator for the University of the Pacific School of Pharmacy from 1996-99.

  • Medical and Pharmacy Editor: Jay W. Marks, MD
    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD, is a board-certified internist and gastroenterologist. He graduated from Yale University School of Medicine and trained in internal medicine and gastroenterology at UCLA/Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

GENERIC NAME: hepatitis A vaccine

BRAND NAME: Havrix, Vaqta

DRUG CLASS AND MECHANISM: Hepatitis A vaccine (Havrix, Vaqta) is used to prevent hepatitis A, a type of liver disease that is caused by the hepatitis A virus (HAV). Hepatitis A is usually spread when a person ingests fecal matter from contact with food, drinks, or objects which have been contaminated by feces or stool of an HAV-infected person. Hepatitis A infection can be mild with no symptoms or a serious illness that can rarely cause liver failure and death. Getting vaccinated against the hepatitis A virus is the best way to prevent these problems.

The hepatitis A vaccine does not cause hepatitis because it does not contain the live virus. It contains inactivated hepatitis A virus. The vaccine works by stimulating the body to produce antibodies, which are proteins that will fight and kill the virus and prevent hepatitis A infection.

Hepatitis A vaccine was approved in 2005.

PRESCRIBED FOR: Hepatitis A vaccine is used to prevent hepatitis A. Hepatitis A vaccine can be used in persons 1 year of age and older.

Although anyone can be infected with hepatitis A, certain people are at high risk and should be routinely vaccinated. These include:

  • All children between their first and second birthdays (12 through 23 months of age).
  • Anyone 1 year of age and older who is travelling to a country where there is a high prevalence of hepatitis A, such as Central or South America, Mexico, Asia (except Japan), Africa, and eastern Europe.
  • Children and adolescents between the ages of 2 and 18 who live in areas where routine vaccination has been implemented because of a high incidence of HAV infection.
  • Men who have sex with men.
  • People who use street drugs.
  • People with chronic (long standing) liver disease.
  • People who are treated with certain blood products (clotting factors).
  • People who work in fields that expose them to the HAV.
  • Unvaccinated people who have been exposed to the hepatitis A virus.
  • Anyone 1 year of age or older who wants to be protected from hepatitis A.

SIDE EFFECTS WARNING: Rare but serious life threatening allergic reactions can occur in rare patients. Severe allergic reactions include hives, swelling of the face or throat, difficulty breathing, rapid heartbeat, dizziness, and weakness. These symptoms can start within a few minutes to a few hours after vaccination.

The vial stopper and the syringe plunger stopper and tip cap contain latex that may cause allergic reactions in people with latex allergies.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 9/23/2015

Quick GuideHepatitis in Pictures: What Puts You at Risk?

Hepatitis in Pictures: What Puts You at Risk?
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