Travel health information about Hepatitis A
Going abroad? Here are all the facts you need to know about the Hepatitis A travel vaccine.
Regions where hepatitis A is common
What is Hepatitis A and what causes it?
Hepatitis A infects the liver and affects its function. People catch it by coming into contact with anything contaminated by faecal matter – poo – including food and water. Very rarely, it can be transmitted via blood. It causes several problems including jaundice, where you turn yellow, plus nausea, fatigue and fever. It can last for anything between a few weeks and several months.
There is no cure for Hepatitis A so treatment is usually supportive, which means the medical profession simply treats the symptoms. Most people make a full recovery, but it can be more serious for older people and those with existing liver problems.
While some people experience no symptoms at all, the most common effects of hepatitis A are:
- Flu-like symptoms, general aches and pains
- Tiredness, nausea, sometimes actually being sick
- An aching liver, located in the upper right part of your stomach just below your ribs
- Yellowing skin (jaundice) and eyes, where the whites of your eyes turn yellow. They clear slowly, usually within 3 weeks, even without treatment
- You will feel tired and weak for a few weeks afterwards, sometimes for several months
- It’s very rare to experience serious problems
Vaccination is recommended for people who:
- Travel to or live in parts of the world where the disease is common, especially where hygiene standards are low
- Have any kind of long term liver problem
- Have haemophilia, are homosexual or inject illegal drugs
- Work with sewerage
- Work in a place with low standards of hygiene
- Work with monkeys, apes, baboons, chimps or gorillas
- Have regular close contact with someone who is already infected
How to minimise the risk of catching hepatitis A?
Good personal hygiene helps prevent hepatitis A from spreading. It’s also important to avoid:
- Drinking any water except boiled or bottled water, also avoiding juice drinks mixed with water
- Sharing towels or toothbrushes
- Raw or under-cooked shellfish
- Salads, fruit and vegetables washed in water – if in doubt buy your own, wash them in bottled water and peel them yourself
- Ice cubes
- Cleaning your teeth with unsafe water
- Unpasteurised dairy products
- Food from street traders, food left out at room temperature and food exposed to flies
Which drugs are used and are there any side effects?
The Hepatitis A vaccine is given as a course of two injections. The first vaccination is followed by a booster vaccination six months later, which can provide as much as 25 years of protection.
The first dose provides high levels of protection for the first year plus some for the next four years. There are various combinations of the drug, which can be given combined with Hepatitis B or Typhoid injections if you need it, and there’s also a version for children.
The vaccine is suitable for anyone over one year old. If you’re pregnant or breast feeding please speak to our travel nurse, who will give you expert advice about the suitability of the vaccine.
- Vaccine name – Epaxyl, Havrix, Avaxim or Vaqta – they all provide good protection
Property – An inactivated vaccine given by injection into the deltoid muscle of your arm
- Dose – A pre-filled syringe
- Course – 2 doses 6 – 12 months apart. If it’s more than a year since your first injection, we don’t usually need to re-start the course
- Booster – None. Just a single course of two injections
Side effects – Mild pain, redness or swelling at the site of the injection. Sometimes flu-like symptoms or stomach and bowel problems
- Special Certificate requirement – None
Special instructions – Like many clinics we use several brands of vaccine, all of which work equally well. We sometimes use a different booster to the first injection, which is also fine
How long will the protection last?
The protection lasts 25 years. If you have already had hepatitis A, you can’t catch the infection again and you won’t need to be immunised.
Where to get vaccinations?
Because we specialise in vaccinations, we’re the ideal London Vaccination Clinic for locals and visitors alike.
How much do hepatitis A vaccinations cost?
The cost depends which brand we recommend in your specific circumstances:
Hepatitis A Adult, Vaqta/Avaxim, Single Dose: £85
Hepatitis A Child, Single Dose: £50 currently unavailable
Want to book a Hepatitis A vaccination? You may simply want to explore the risks or find out more first. It’s quick and easy to book an appointment, either by phone or via our website. Call 0207 112 5198 to talk to a friendly, expert vaccination specialist.