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Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver that can be deadly. There are five main hepatitis viruses, known as A, B, C, D and E. Hepatitis is most often caused by the A and B viruses.

Hepatitis A is commonly spread through infected food or water. It is more common in countries without safe water or sewage systems. Hepatitis B is spread through sexual contact or contact with blood. It can also be passed from mother to child.

Vaccines can prevent hepatitis A and hepatitis B. There is also a combination vaccine that protects against both viruses.

What is a hepatitis A and B vaccine?

Hepatitis A and B vaccines introduce killed virus particles. This causes your body to fight off live hepatitis A and B viruses in the future.

Who should get a hepatitis A and B vaccine?

Infants typically receive doses of hepatitis B vaccine at birth and at 6 months. Hepatitis A vaccines are recommended for children 12 months and older who are at risk for infection.

A hepatitis A and B combination vaccine is also recommended for anyone 18 or older who:

  • Travels to an area where hepatitis is common
  • Is military personnel
  • Engages in high-risk sexual behavior
  • Uses injection drugs
  • Has hemophilia
  • Has chronic liver disease
  • Lives or works in an area with increased exposure to blood or bodily fluids

A hepatitis vaccine is not recommended for anyone who:

  • Has a serious allergy to an ingredient in the vaccine
  • Has had a serious reaction to a dose of the vaccine in the past
  • Has a weakened immune system
  • Is pregnant

Consult a healthcare provider for specific recommendations.

What are the side effects of the hepatitis A and B vaccine?

Possible side effects from hepatitis A and B vaccines are typically mild. They can include soreness at the site of the shot, headache, fever or tiredness.

Any vaccine carries a very small risk of severe allergic reaction. Go to the ER if you experience difficulty breathing, dizziness or swelling in the face.

If you need a hepatitis A and B vaccination, find the nearest CareNow® urgent care clinic. You can minimize your wait time with our Web Check-In®.

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