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Hepatitis A Vaccine

By William D. Surkis, MD, Clinical Associate Professor of Medicine; Director, Internal Medicine Residency Program, Jefferson Medical College; Lankenau Medical Center
Jerome Santoro, MD, Clinical Professor of Medicine; Chief, Department of Medicine, Jefferson Medical College; Lankenau Medical Center

For more information, see the Hepatitis A vaccine information statement.

The hepatitis A vaccine helps protect against hepatitis A. Typically, hepatitis A is less serious than hepatitis B. Hepatitis A often causes no symptoms, although it can cause fever, nausea, vomiting, and jaundice and, rarely, leads to severe liver failure and death. Hepatitis A does not lead to chronic hepatitis.

Use of the vaccine has reduced the number of people who become infected.


The hepatitis A vaccine is given as an injection into a muscle. Two doses are given to all children: typically at age 12 to 23 months and 6 to 18 months later. After the first dose, people are fulled protected for 6 to 12 months, and after the second dose, children are protected at least 14 to 20 years, and adults are protected at least 25 years.

The hepatitis A vaccine is also recommended for any adult who wishes protection from hepatitis A and for adults at increased risk of the infection, such as the following:

  • Travelers to areas where the disease is common

  • People who inject illegal drugs

  • Men who have sex with men

  • People who have a chronic liver disorder

  • People who are treated with blood clotting factors

Side Effects

Sometimes the injection site is sore. No serious side effects have been reported.