Hepatitis A Vaccine: Care Instructions

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Your Care Instructions

You can protect yourself from hepatitis A with a vaccine. Hepatitis A is a virus that can cause a very serious infection.

You can get this virus in two ways. One way is to eat food contaminated with the virus. The second way is from close contact with someone who has the virus.

The vaccine is recommended for all children at 1 year of age. The vaccine is given to children younger than age 1 who travel to countries where hepatitis is common. If you or your child haven't had the vaccine, talk to your doctor before you travel. It's also recommended for men who have sex with men and for people who have liver disease.

The vaccine is given as two separate shots in your arm. The first shot gives you some protection. But the second one protects you for at least 20 years. You can get the second shot 6 months after the first one.

The shot may cause some pain in the arm. It can also cause a headache, tiredness, or nausea. But these symptoms aren't common. If you have a bad reaction to the first shot, tell your doctor. In this case, it may not be a good idea to get the second shot.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Take an over-the-counter pain medicine, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), or naproxen (Aleve), if your arm is sore or if you get a headache. Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
  • Do not take two or more pain medicines at the same time unless the doctor told you to. Many pain medicines have acetaminophen, which is Tylenol. Too much acetaminophen (Tylenol) can be harmful.
  • Put ice or a cold pack on the sore area for 10 to 20 minutes at a time. Put a thin cloth between the ice and your skin.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You have a seizure.
  • You have symptoms of a severe allergic reaction. These may include:
    • Sudden raised, red areas (hives) all over the body.
    • Swelling of the throat, mouth, lips, or tongue.
    • Trouble breathing.
    • Passing out (losing consciousness). Or you may feel very lightheaded or suddenly feel weak, confused, or restless.
    • Severe belly pain, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have symptoms of an allergic reaction, such as:
    • A rash or hives (raised, red areas on the skin).
    • Itching.
    • Swelling.
    • Mild belly pain or nausea.
  • You have a high fever.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if you have any problems.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

Enter G721 in the search box to learn more about "Hepatitis A Vaccine: Care Instructions".

The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.