About the vaccine
- When to get vaccinated: You should get vaccinated at least two weeks before travelling.
- Course: The course consists of one dose.
- Boosters: The vaccine protects you for one year. If you have another booster after 6 -12 months, you won’t need any further boosters for 25 years thereafter.
- How it is given: An injection in the upper arm.
- Side effects: Side effects can include a high temperature, feeling tired and soreness at the injection site.
- Children: The vaccine is suitable for children over the age of one.
- Additional precautions: You need to practise food safety as well as water and hand hygiene while in an area where hepatitis A is endemic.
- Risk if you contract hepatitis A: Hepatitis A can cause mild to severe symptoms, including fever and digestive issues. It can cause complications such as liver failure.
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A hepatitis A vaccine requires one single injection, which should ideally be scheduled to take place at least 2 weeks before travelling abroad. It provides protection for one year, after which you will require a booster dose. If you have this booster dose you won’t need further boosters for 25 years.
In addition to the hepatitis A vaccination, there are combined vaccination courses for hepatitis A and typhoid as well as hepatitis A and hepatitis B. If you are unsure as to which vaccine is best for you, your Superdrug travel nurse will be able to recommend the most suitable treatment for you.
After the injection, your skin around the injection site may harden and you may experience soreness or swelling. This is a very common side effect, along with feeling a little tired after the vaccine or temporarily having a high temperature.
Common side effects
- disturbances of the gut such as diarrhoea
- vomiting or abdominal pain
- loss of appetite
What is hepatitis A?
Hepatitis A is a viral infection, which affects the human liver.
How is hepatitis A transmitted?
The hepatitis A virus is usually ingested via contaminated food or water and is endemic to countries with an insufficient sanitation system and poor access to clean food and water. It can spread rapidly and is known to cause sudden epidemics.
Which symptoms does it cause?
After an incubation period of 2 – 4 weeks, patients usually develop hepatitis A symptoms such as fever, digestive problems and jaundice. The severity of the symptoms varies in different people and can range from mild to very severe. In rare cases, hepatitis A can lead to complications such as cholestasis (an interruption to bile excretion) and liver failure. According to the World Health Organisation, every year there are about 1.4 million cases of hepatitis A worldwide.
Hepatitis A risk areas
Areas affected by hepatitis A include the South American continent, the African continent as well as most countries in Asia. The hepatitis risk in any area depends on local hygiene practices and the local sanitation system. The hepatitis risk in any area depends on local hygiene practices and the local sanitation system.
The following increase your risk of contracting hepatitis A:
- poor sanitation
- lack of safe water
- use of recreational drugs
- living in a household with an infected person
- being a sexual partner of someone with acute hepatitis A infection
- travelling to areas of high endemicity without being immunised
People living in high risk areas usually contract hepatitis A early in their lives and develop immunity that protects them, which is why large outbreaks in high risk areas are quite rare. However, visitors travelling to these destinations have not previously been exposed to the illness and are therefore at a higher risk of infection.
Preventing hepatitis A
Whenever you travel to areas with an increased risk of viral or bacterial infections, you should follow a few simple rules to limit your exposure to local diseases. Most of these rules are easy to follow and very effective in reducing your risk of hepatitis A. It is best to be careful with foods if you do not know how they have been prepared and cooked. You should only drink boiled or bottled water and wash your hands very carefully after going to the toilet and before preparing food. If you think you have symptoms of hepatitis, always seek advice from a doctor.
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