Hepatitis A

About Hepatitis A
Symptoms
About the Vaccine
Who should get the Vaccine
Where to get the Vaccine

Hepatitis A
Hepatitis A is a serious liver disease caused by the Hepatitis A virus (HAV). HAV is found in the stool of persons with Hepatitis A and is spread by close personal contact with an infected person or by eating food or drinking water contaminated with HAV. The incubation period (time you were infected to the time you contract the disease) is from approximately 20 to 50 days. More information.

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Symptoms
HAV causes a wide variety of symptoms that range from mild flu-like symptoms to more serious problems such as "yellow jaundice", severe abdominal pains, nausea, diarrhea, and fatigue, possibly requiring hospitalization. In some cases HAV can cause death.

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About the Vaccine
HAV is a vaccine-preventable disease. The vaccine is an inactivated whole virus derived from HAV grown in a human cell culture. It is harvested, purified, formalin inactivated (so it cannot give you the disease!), and prepared in a sterile suspension for injection. Side effects of the vaccine can include soreness at the site of injection and fatigue. Severe allergic reactions are rare.

The vaccination schedule includes one injection with a booster dose 6 to 12 months later. Vaccination should be started at least 2 weeks before anticipated exposure to HAV. Immunity appears to be at least 20 years, but there are no studies as of yet to confirm longevity of the immunity.

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Who Should Get the Vaccine
  • Persons traveling to or working in countries with high rates of Hepatitis A, such as those in Central or South America, Mexico, the Caribbean, Asia (except Japan), southern or eastern Europe, and Africa.
  • Persons living in communities with high rates of Hepatitis A, such as Native American, Alaska Native, and Pacific Islander communities.
  • Persons with chronic liver disease.
  • Persons who engage in homosexuality or use street drugs.

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Where to Get the Vaccine

  1. University Medical Services provides immunizations by appointment (cost subject to availability)
  2. Local Health Departments
    • Greene County Health Department: 937-374-5600
    • Montgomery County Public Health Department: 937-225-4550
    • Clark County Health Department: 937-390-5600

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