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Hepatitis Vaccine Protects You and Your Baby

Mother changing baby's diaper

Protect your baby and your health and get the hepatitis A vaccine for your baby. Babies can have a hepatitis A infection without symptoms and can pass the virus on to unvaccinated adults who can get very sick.

Hepatitis A virus is found in the stool (poop) of a person who has the virus. It spreads when a person puts food or objects in their mouth that have the hepatitis A virus on it. The amount of stool on an object can be so tiny that it you cannot see it with your naked eye, so even if something looks clean, it can still have the hepatitis a virus on it.

Babies and Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is a serious liver disease caused by the hepatitis A virus. Babies and adults can get hepatitis A when they eat or drink food or water contaminated with the virus or put objects or their hands contaminated with the virus in their mouth. Hepatitis A virus is easily spread to others – even when people practice good hand washing practices. That’s why the vaccine offers the best protection.

Baby putting hand in mouth and playing with toys

Babies can pass hepatitis A infection to their caretakers who contact their infected stool (poop).

Hepatitis A Symptoms

Hepatitis A can cause:

  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Low appetite
  • Stomach pain
  • Nausea
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes).

Most babies and children under 6 who get the virus often don’t have any symptoms, so it can be hard to tell if your baby has hepatitis A. Even without showing symptoms, babies can still pass the disease to others, including their unvaccinated parents or caregivers. When older children or adults parents get the disease from an unvaccinated child, they can get very sick and may have symptoms that last up to 6 months and may need care in the hospital.

Prevent Hepatitis A with the Safe and Effective Hepatitis A Vaccine

The hepatitis A vaccine is very safe and it is effective at preventing hepatitis A. Vaccines, like any medicine, can have side effects, but serious side effects caused by the hepatitis A vaccine are extremely rare. The most common side effects are usually mild and last 1 or 2 days. Mild side effects include a sore arm from the shot, headache, tiredness, low-grade fever (less than 101 degrees), or loss of appetite (not wanting to eat).

Since the vaccine became available in 1995, more than millions of people have received hepatitis A vaccine in the United States and no serious side effects have been reported. Ultimately, the potential risks associated with hepatitis A are much greater than the risks of getting the vaccine.

Why Should My Baby Get the Hepatitis A Vaccine?

The hepatitis A vaccine:

  • Protects your child from hepatitis A, a potentially serious disease.
  • Protects other people from the disease because children under 6 years old with hepatitis A usually don’t have symptoms, but they often pass the disease to others without anyone knowing they were infected.
  • Keeps your child from missing school or childcare (and keeps you from missing work to care for your sick child).

When Should My Baby Get The Hepatitis A Vaccine?

Babies should get 2 doses of the hepatitis A vaccine for best protection from hepatitis A infection. Your baby should get:

The first dose between 12 and 23 months

The second dose 6 months after the first dose

Should Parents Get the Hepatitis A Vaccine?

Parents who have not had a hepatitis A vaccine and would like protection can get the shot, but CDC recommends parents who are at an increased risk of infections or complications should get the vaccine for themselves as well as their baby. For example, unvaccinated parents, caretakers, and others who have close contact with newly adopted babies from countries where hepatitis A is common are at increased risk for getting hepatitis A infection. If you are adopting, get your first dose of hepatitis A as soon as you can, ideally 2 or more weeks before your adopted baby arrives. As soon as your baby is older than 12 months, ensure they get their hepatitis A vaccine.

To learn more about hepatitis A and the hepatitis A vaccine, talk with your child’s doctor or visit the hepatitis A disease page.

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