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What is Hepatitis A vaccine?
Hepatitis A virus is another cause of hepatitis (inflammation of the liver) but unlike HBV, HAV causes disease that lasts several weeks. Nothing chronic or as damaging as HBV can get. In the past the virus used to be most virulent in school going children but not anymore. The virus is usually present in stool and spreads by direct contact or from contaminated food or water. The rate of infection depends on the severity of the attack and to an extent on the age of the patient. Children younger than 5 years of age often have no symptoms; a small percentage develop jaundice but older children and adults are more likely to have jaundice, fever, stomach pain, diarrhea and fatigue. Among the groups most at risk are those who travel to countries where the rate of the disease is high. Young children fortunately do not fall in the high risk category. Hepatitis A is not as serious as other forms of viral hepatitis.
Mostly infected individuals recover totally with no chronic repercussions and once infected the recovery is typically less than two months with total immunity from the disease. There are several brands of vaccine in the market and it can also be given combined with other vaccines. Combination vaccine with hep B for example is quite popularly given to children. Although children are not at risk of acquiring this infection, authorities believe that routine immunization will work effectively in reducing HAV episodes worldwide. Like the HBV vaccine, HAV vaccine is thought to provide at least 20 years protection.
Dose: Available vaccines are Havrix and Vaqta. Two shots to be given between 12 and 23 months with the second dose being given at least six months after the first.