Hepatitis A Vaccination
Hepatitis A is a highly contagious, short-term liver infection caused by the Hepatitis A virus. It causes liver inflammation and symptoms of mild-to-severe illness. This is an acute infection that lasts for up to two months.
Symptoms & complications of Hepatitis A
Common signs of Hepatitis A include jaundice (yellowing of the skin) and eyes, tiredness, nausea and loss of appetite, abdominal pain, fever, joint pain, dark-coloured stools, dark urine.
People typically recover from Hepatitis A without complications. Hepatitis A may lead to severe complications such as liver failure, although this is very rare. Liver failure due to Hepatitis A is more prevalent in adults aged 50 and over and those who have another liver disease.
Who is at risk of Hepatitis A?
People are who are at risk of Hepatitis A are:
- International travellers
- People who have unprotected sex
- People who use or inject drugs
- People experiencing homelessness
- People with occupational risk for exposure
How can I protect myself from Hepatitis A?
The best way to protect yourself is vaccination. Inactivated Hepatitis A vaccines are prepared from Hepatitis A virus (HAV) harvested from human diploid cell cultures. Vaccination can be performed at any age and immunity can be obtained after full course without boosters.
Lifestyle/other protective mechanisms
- Strict personal hygiene which includes washing hands with soap or sanitiser before handling food or after going to the toilet.
- Always using barrier protection during intercourse
- Vaccination may prevent illness only if given within 2 weeks of infectious contact.
- Clean bathrooms and toilets often, paying attention to toilet seats, handles, taps and nappy change tables.
- Caution when drinking from an unknown water source.
- If travelling overseas, particularly to countries where Hepatitis A is widespread, take caution with hygiene and food. Prior to travelling, visit the doctor to discuss travel preparation and vaccines.
Pregnancy and breastfeeding
For pregnant women, the Hepatitis A vaccine is not routinely recommended. Pregnant women can receive Hepatitis A vaccine if:
- They are travelling to areas of moderate to high endemicity.
- They have increased risk of exposure through lifestyle factors or exposure to a person known to have acute Hepatitis A
- Severe outcomes may be expected (e.g. women with pre-existing liver disease)
Limited data are available therefore only pregnant women who are non-immune and at increased risk for Hepatitis A should be vaccinated with the Hepatitis A vaccine.
For women that are breastfeeding; there is no contra-indication to having the vaccination and continuing to breastfeed.
Who can get vaccinated at National Pharmacies?
South Australia: Currently in South Australia, Pharmacists can administer the Hepatitis A vaccine to anyone aged 10 years and over. In conjunction, they are also able to administer the Hepatitis A and B combination vaccine to anyone 10 years and over.
Victoria: Pharmacists are unable to administer the Hepatitis A vaccine.
New South Wales: Currently Pharmacists in New South Wales can administer the Hepatitis A vaccine for those 5 years and over (privately funded).
Hepatitis A Vaccination Pricing: Members from $65 per dose, Retail Price from $85 per dose.
World Health Organization (2022). Hepatitis A. [online] Who.int: https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/Hepatitis-a.
Uptodate.com. (2023). UpToDate. [online]: https://www.uptodate.com/contents/image?imageKey=ID%2F110077 [Accessed 6 Jul. 2023].
Department for Health and Wellbeing; address=11 Hindmarsh Square, A. (n.d.). Hepatitis A – including symptoms, treatment and prevention. [online] www.sahealth.sa.gov.au: https://www.sahealth.sa.gov.au/wps/wcm/connect/public+content/sa+health+internet/conditions/infectious+diseases/Hepatitis/Hepatitis+a+-+including+symptoms+treatment+and+prevention.
Australia, H. (2019). Hepatitis A. [online] www.healthdirect.gov.au: https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/Hepatitis-a.