Vaccine (Shot) for Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A

How to pronounce: “HEP” + “uh” + “TY” + “tis”

Doctors recommend that your child get two doses of the hepatitis A vaccine for best protection.

Why should my child get the hepatitis A shot?

  • 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 you from missing work.

When should my child get the hepatitis A shot?

Your child will need two doses of the Hepatitis A shot for best protection. One dose at each of the following ages:

2nd dose
6 months after last dose

The hepatitis A shot is safe.

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The hepatitis A vaccine is very safe, and it is effective at preventing the hepatitis A disease. Vaccines, like any medicine, can have side effects. These are usually mild and go away on their own.

What are the side effects?

The most common side effects are usually mild and last 1 or 2 days. They include:

  • Sore arm from the shot
  • Headache
  • Tiredness
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite (not wanting to eat)
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Prepare for your child's vaccine visit and learn about how you can:

  • Research vaccines and ready your child before the visit
  • Comfort your child during the appointment
  • Care for your child after the shot
Before, During, and After Shots

What is hepatitis A?

Hepatitis A is a serious liver disease caused by the hepatitis A virus. Children with the virus often don’t have symptoms, but they often pass the disease to others, including their unvaccinated parents or caregivers. These individuals can get very sick.

What are the symptoms of hepatitis A disease?

Children under 6 years old often have no symptoms. Older children and adults feel
very sick and weak. Symptoms usually appear 2 to 6 weeks after a person gets the virus.
The symptoms may include

  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite (not wanting to eat)
  • Tiredness
  • Stomach pain
  • Vomiting
  • Dark urine
  • Yellow skin and eyes

Is it serious?

Older children, adolescents and adults often feel sick and symptoms can last for up to 6 months. There is no specific treatment for hepatitis A.

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Hepatitis A is a serious disease that used to be more common in the United States. In the 1980s, the United States used to see as many as 30,000 cases a year. Thanks to the vaccine, the number of hepatitis A cases in the United States has dropped by 95%.

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How does hepatitis A spread?

Hepatitis A virus is found in the stool (poop) of a person who has the virus. It spreads when a person puts something in his or her mouth that has the hepatitis A virus on it. Even if the item looks clean, it can still have virus on it that can spread to others. The amount of stool can be so tiny that it cannot be seen with the naked eye. You can get it by touching objects such as doorknobs or diapers or eating food that has the virus on it.

Follow the vaccine schedule

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, American Academy of Family Physicians, and American Academy of Pediatrics strongly recommend children receive all vaccines according to the recommended vaccine schedule.

Page last reviewed: August 2, 2019