Hepatitis A vaccine

What is it for?

This vaccine protects you against infections caused by the hepatitis A virus.

The hepatitis viruses A, B, and C are the most common cause of hepatitis (inflammation of the liver). Hepatitis A can cause liver damage. There are many other causes of hepatitis, including excessive alcohol intake, and sometimes it is a side effect of some medicines.

A different vaccine is needed to protect you against hepatitis B, which can cause liver cancer. There are no vaccines available for hepatitis C, or for the less infectious forms of hepatitis.

Hepatitis A is spread if you come into contact with faeces-contaminated water or food containing the virus. The virus can survive for several hours on your hands and in contaminated food or water that is not kept cold.

Good hygiene practices and washing your hands regularly with soap and water are essential in preventing hepatitis A infections. When travelling in places where hygiene may be poor, avoid unclean water or food.

Who should be vaccinated?

The hepatitis A vaccine is recommended for people who are most at risk of infection, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, and people travelling to countries where the water supply isn’t clean.

Children

Free hepatitis A vaccines are available for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 5 years or younger living in Queensland, the Northern Territory, Western Australia and South Australia, as part of the National Immunisation Program schedule.

The vaccine is provided to protect the children living in these areas from hepatitis A infection because they are more at risk of getting hepatitis A, and being hospitalised due to the infection compared with children living elsewhere.

Two doses of the hepatitis A vaccine are usually given to children when they are between 12 and 24 months old.

All hepatitis A vaccines use in Australia are killed vaccines. To find out more, read our information on how vaccines are made.

Other groups at risk of hepatitis A infection

The following groups of people are also considered at higher risk of hepatitis A infection and are recommended to have a hepatitis A-containing vaccination:

  • healthcare workers, and medical and nursing students
  • people who work with children, especially in communities considered at higher risk of infection
  • people with developmental disabilities and their carers
  • people who are at risk of infection due to workplace factors
  • sewage workers
  • men who have sex with men
  • injecting drug users
  • people with hepatitis B, hepatitis C or liver disease
  • people who have received liver transplants
  • people travelling to places where hepatitis A, hepatitis B or typhoid are present (e.g. developing countries).

Hepatitis A vaccines are also available as combination vaccines that also protect against either hepatitis B or typhoid. Ask your doctor for advice about the most suitable vaccine for you. Anyone wanting to be vaccinated can do so at their own cost.

These vaccines are not funded by the National Immunisation Program for these groups, so anyone wanting to be vaccinated can do so at their own cost.

For more information, read about vaccine recommendations for at-risk groups.

Travellers

Children (1 year and older) and adults travelling to, or living in, areas where they are at risk of hepatitis A infection, are recommended to have the hepatitis A vaccination.

Hepatitis A vaccines are also available as combination vaccines that also protect against either hepatitis B or typhoid. Ask your doctor for advice about the most suitable vaccine for you. Anyone wanting to be vaccinated can do so at their own cost.

Pregnant women

Hepatitis vaccination can be given to pregnant women who are at higher risk of infection due to:

  • lifestyle factors (e.g. injecting drug users), or
  • a medical condition (e.g. liver disease).

If you’re pregnant and travelling to a country where hepatitis A infection is present, a hepatitis A-containing vaccination is recommended.

Ask your doctor for advice. Anyone wanting to be vaccinated can do so at their own cost.

Read more about what vaccines you can have if you are pregnant.

Women who are breastfeeding

There is no known risk to your baby if you are vaccinated with the hepatitis A vaccine while you are breastfeeding.

Women who are breastfeeding can be vaccinated with any vaccine, except the yellow fever vaccine.

Side effects

Common side effects of the hepatitis A vaccine (that may affect 1 to 10 in every 100 people) include:

  • redness, swelling and pain at the injection site
  • fever (temperature higher than 38.5°C)
  • tiredness
  • headache
  • feeling generally unwell (malaise)
  • nausea
  • diarrhoea.

Read more about vaccine side effects and safety.

Who can I ask about side effects?

If you’re concerned that you or your child may have had side effects related to a vaccine, seek medical advice. To report and discuss possible side effects, call the Adverse Medicines Events (AME) Line on 1300 134 237 from anywhere in Australia (Monday–Friday, 9am–5pm AEST).

References

Related information - hepatitis A vaccine

Audience:
       

(Medicine)
02 Nov 2016 Twinrix (720/20) Preservative Free Suspension for injection is a brand of medicine containing the active ingredient hepatitis A vaccine - hepatitis B vaccine. Find out about side effects, who can take it and who shouldn’t use Twinrix (720/20) Preservative Free Suspension for injection by reading the latest Australian consumer medicine information, plus tips on how to use medicines wisely and safely.
(Medicine)
02 Nov 2016 Twinrix Junior (360/10) Preservative Free Suspension for injection is a brand of medicine containing the active ingredient hepatitis A vaccine - hepatitis B vaccine. Find out about side effects, who can take it and who shouldn’t use Twinrix Junior (360/10) Preservative Free Suspension for injection by reading the latest Australian consumer medicine information, plus tips on how to use medicines wisely and safely.
(Medicine)
16 Sep 2015 VAQTA Adult Formulation Suspension for injection is a brand of medicine containing the active ingredient hepatitis A vaccine. Find out about side effects, who can take it and who shouldn’t use VAQTA Adult Formulation Suspension for injection by reading the latest Australian consumer medicine information, plus tips on how to use medicines wisely and safely.
(Medicine)
16 Sep 2015 VAQTA Paediatric/adolescent Formulation Suspension for injection is a brand of medicine containing the active ingredient hepatitis A vaccine. Find out about side effects, who can take it and who shouldn’t use VAQTA Paediatric/adolescent Formulation Suspension for injection by reading the latest Australian consumer medicine information, plus tips on how to use medicines wisely and safely.
(Medicine)
24 Aug 2015 Vivaxim Solution for injection is a brand of medicine. Find out about side effects, who can and who shouldn’t use Vivaxim Solution for injection by reading the latest Australian consumer medicine information. See our tips on how to use medicines wisely and safely.
(Medicine)
11 Dec 2014 Avaxim Suspension for injection is a brand of medicine containing the active ingredient hepatitis A vaccine. Find out about side effects, who can take it and who shouldn’t use Avaxim Suspension for injection by reading the latest Australian consumer medicine information, plus tips on how to use medicines wisely and safely.
(Medicine)
12 Jun 2013 Havrix 1440 Preservative Free Suspension for injection is a brand of medicine containing the active ingredient hepatitis A vaccine. Find out about side effects, who can take it and who shouldn’t use Havrix 1440 Preservative Free Suspension for injection by reading the latest Australian consumer medicine information, plus tips on how to use medicines wisely and safely.
(Medicine)
12 Jun 2013 Havrix Junior Preservative Free Suspension for injection is a brand of medicine containing the active ingredient hepatitis A vaccine. Find out about side effects, who can take it and who shouldn’t use Havrix Junior Preservative Free Suspension for injection by reading the latest Australian consumer medicine information, plus tips on how to use medicines wisely and safely.