What is hepatitis A?
Hepatitis A is a viral disease that causes inflammation of the liver. Your symptoms begin a few weeks after the virus enters your body. Although not all people may show symptoms, others may experience very severe symptoms. Fortunately, people can rarely die from hepatitis A. Symptoms of hepatitis A include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Abdominal discomfort on the upper right side beneath your lower ribs (by your liver)
- Clay-colored bowel movements
- Loss of appetite
- Dark urine
- Joint discomfort
- Yellowing of the skin and whiteness of the eyes (jaundice)
- Severe itching
The symptoms we mentioned are often very mild and go away within a few weeks.
The ways of transmitting this virus are:
- Exposure to contaminated food and drink
- Close contact with infected individuals or people who are infected but have no symptoms
- Drinking contaminated water
- Having sexual intercourse with an infected person
Unlike other types of hepatitis, hepatitis A does not cause long-term liver damage. In rare cases, liver function may be impaired, which often occurs in the elderly.
What is hepatitis B?
Hepatitis B can lead to serious liver infections. Fortunately, most people with hepatitis B recover completely, even if they have severe symptoms. You should know that there is no medicine for hepatitis B. You can only get the necessary immunity by getting the vaccine. Therefore, if you are infected, you should only take some precautions to prevent spreading the virus to others.
Symptoms of hepatitis B include:
The symptoms of hepatitis are similar to hepatitis A. This virus can be transmitted by:
- Sexual contact: If you have unprotected intercourse with someone infected with the virus, you will also become infected.
- Sharing contaminated needles: Hepatitis B-infected syringes and needles can be a source of virus transmission.
- Mother to the fetus during childbirth: Pregnant women with hepatitis B may pass the virus to their baby during childbirth.
- People who come in contact with human blood, such as health care personnel
Complications of hepatitis B include:
- Liver scar or cirrhosis
- liver cancer
- Liver failure
- Other problems such as kidney disease and inflammation of the blood vessels
Who should get the hepatitis A vaccine?
According to the CDC recommendation, the following people should get the hepatitis A vaccine:
- Children aged 12 to 23 months
- Children aged 2 to 18 years old
- International travelers
- Men who have sex with other men
- Homeless people
- People who have HIV
- People with chronic liver disease
Children need two doses of the hepatitis vaccine. The first dose should be given at 12 months to 23 months of age, while the second is six months after it.
Who should get the hepatitis B vaccine?
The hepatitis B vaccine is recommended for:
- People whose sexual partner has hepatitis B.
- People who have multiple sexual partners
- Men who have sex with other men
- People whose family members have hepatitis B.
- People who share their needles and syringes.
- Healthcare personnel who are in contact with body fluids and blood
- Victims of sexual assault
- People who travel to areas where the rate of hepatitis is high
- People with chronic liver disease, kidney disease, hepatitis C, HIV, and diabetes
- People who work in correctional centers
The side effects of hepatitis A and B vaccines:
Symptoms of mild to moderate hepatitis vaccine injection include:
- Appearing swelling, redness, or soreness at the injection site
- Headache, tiredness, and loss of appetite
Severe problems are very unlikely to occur, but the following side effects may occur:
- Difficulty breathing
- Pale skin
- Fast heartbeat
How long does hepatitis vaccination last?
It can be said that vaccine-induced immunity decreases over time. But researchers have proved that this immunity can last up to ten years. Most healthy people who plan to travel get enough safety by receiving a dose. Injecting the next two or three doses results in long-lasting protection.
Proper use of Hepatitis A Vaccine
The hepatitis A vaccine is usually injected in two doses. The second dose is called the booster dose. The booster dose of hepatitis A vaccine is given 6 months to 18 months after the first dose.
The hepatitis B vaccine is typically given as an injection in the arm. It is administered as a three-dose series, with the second dose given one month after the first dose and the third dose given six months after the first dose. After receiving all three doses, the hepatitis B vaccine provides greater than 90% protection to those immunized before being exposed to the virus.
Proper use of Hepatitis B Vaccine
The hepatitis B vaccine is usually injected in three doses. The next two doses are given 1 to 6 months after the first dose unless your physician tells you otherwise.
For example, the intervals between the three doses could be:
- First Shot: At any given time, but newborns should receive this dose in the delivery room
- Second Shot: At least one month after the first shot
- Third Shot – At least 4 months after the first or 2 months after the second shot. Keep in mind that infants should be a minimum of 24 weeks old at the time of the third dose.
If you miss a dose, you do not need to restart the vaccine series. For example, if you received the first two doses of the vaccine and missed the third dose, schedule the last shot whenever you can.
If you have had hepatitis before, getting the vaccine will not help you. You can do a titer test to find out if you have had hepatitis before. The result of this test shows whether antibodies against hepatitis A and B are circulating in your blood
Hepatitis A and B vaccines are given intramuscularly. In rare cases, a severe allergic reaction called anaphylaxis may occur. Contact your physician if you have the below symptoms after injection:
- Swelling of the tongue and throat
- Trouble breathing
The cover of the needle and the rubber plunger of the syringe contains dry natural latex, which may induce an allergic reaction in individuals with a latex allergy.
You can now easily access the hepatitis A and B vaccine in many US clinics. Our center, the Southern Nevada Occupational Health Center (SNOHC), provides a range of essential vaccines that are necessary for employees in the workplace.
We tried to cover all you need to know about the Hepatitis A and B vaccine, which are driven from the most commonly asked questions by our clients at Southern Nevada Occupational Health Center (SNOHC). For further information about services performed at SNOHC, you can navigate through the menu of this website. Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions.
Frequently Asked Questions about Hep A & B
How long does hepatitis vaccines last?
It can be said that vaccine-induced immunity decreases over time. But researchers have proved that this immunity can last up to ten years.
Who should get hepatitis A and B vaccine?
People 18 years of age or older who are at risk due to the job, behavior, or traveling should be vaccinated.
What are the side effects of hepatitis A and B vaccine?
Soreness, headache, fatigue, diarrhea, nausea, and fainting are some of the side effects of hepatitis A and B vaccine.
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