Many children suffer reactions to the many vaccines they receive in early life. However, people can be vaccinated at any age and may be given additional immunizations if they travel to other countries. One vaccine typically given only to adults is the hepatitis A vaccine, which protects a patient and his or her family from contracting the potentially deadly virus.
What Is Hepatitis A?
Hepatitis A is a viral infection that causes a debilitating form of liver disease. The disease is present in the stool of infected people, and the infection is often spread through contaminated water, sexual or close contact with an infected person, or by consuming uncooked foods (such as raw fruits and vegetables) that have been contaminated.
Children and adults can both contract hepatitis A, although children are less likely to show symptoms. Common signs of hepatitis A infection include:
- Flu-like symptoms (such as fever, nausea, fatigue, sweating, or chills)
- Brown or dark urine
- Painful stomachaches or diarrhea
- Yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes (jaundice)
When Should People Get the Hepatitis A Vaccine?
People most commonly receive the hepatitis A vaccine if they are traveling to countries where hepatitis A is common. Those who are visiting, moving to, or working in Asia, Africa, Central or South America, Mexico, or Eastern Europe are advised to get vaccinated against the virus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also recommends that adults undergo hepatitis A vaccination if they:
- Are living or working with an international adoptee from a country with a high rate of hepatitis
- Use illegal drugs that are administered through a needle
- Are men who have sex with men
- Have a history of chronic liver disease
- Work with hepatitis A (or work with primates infected with the virus) in a research lab
Some adults are advised not to get the hepatitis A vaccine, including people who are pregnant (or are trying to get pregnant), those who are suffering from an illness, or those who have previously had a severe allergic reaction to alum, 2-phenoxyethanol, or any other component in the hepatitis A vaccine.
Known Side Effects of the Hepatitis A Vaccine
To be effective, the hepatitis A vaccine must be given in a series of two injections: one six months before exposure, and one at least one month before exposure. The majority of people who get the hepatitis A vaccine do not have any adverse reactions, but there is always a chance that a new medication or injection will cause side effects.
When they do occur, hepatitis A vaccine reactions usually begin soon after the first injection, and may include:
- Flu-like symptoms. Patients may suffer headaches, tiredness, and a low-grade fever after the vaccine is administered.
- Pain at the injection site. Patients have often reported shoulder pain and soreness or a reddening and swelling of the upper arm where the shot was given.
- Allergic reaction. An allergic reaction is one of the biggest risks of vaccine administration. Although these are rare, severe allergic reactions can occur within a few hours after vaccination and can be fatal in some cases. Common signs of severe allergic reaction to the hepatitis A vaccination include high fever, wheezing or difficulty breathing, hives, dizziness, body weakness, increased heartbeat, and behavioral changes.
In most cases, the risks of contracting hepatitis A are much greater than the risk of injury from the vaccine. However, people who have suffered immunization side effects can be eligible for payment through the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (NVICP) or by filing a vaccine injury lawsuit. Shannon Law Group is a nationwide vaccine injury law firm, allowing victims from every state to get adequate compensation for their medical bills, lost income, and unnecessary suffering due to vaccination. Simply fill out our online contact form today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with one of our attorneys.