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Your Child's Immunizations: Hepatitis A Vaccine (HepA)

Medically reviewed by: Elana Pearl Ben-Joseph, MD

What Is Hepatitis A?

Hepatitis A is an infection of the liver caused by the hepatitis A virus (HAV) virus. People with hepatitis A can have no symptoms or they can feel very sick with fever, nausea, vomiting, and .

HepA Immunization Schedule

The HepA vaccine is recommended for children 12–23 months old, followed by a second dose at least 6 months later.

HepA can be given as early as 6 months of age if a baby will travel to a place where hepatitis A is common. The baby will still need routine vaccination after their first birthday. It's also recommended for older kids (2–18 years old) who haven't already gotten it.

Why Is HepA Recommended?

The HepA vaccine not only protects the kids who get it. It also can help prevent outbreaks. An outbreak is when a disease happens in greater numbers than expected in a particular area.

Childcare centers are a common site of hepatitis A outbreaks. Some kids can be infected and not have symptoms. But they can still spread the virus to others. Having many young kids vaccinated against hepatitis A can stop it from spreading in a community.

Possible Risks of the HepA Vaccine

Side effects usually are mild, and can include a mild fever and soreness or redness at the injection site. Allergic reactions to the vaccine are rare.

The HepA vaccine contains a killed (inactivated) virus, so it cannot cause hepatitis.

When to Delay or Avoid HAV Immunization

The HepA vaccine is not recommended if your child:

  • is currently sick, although simple colds or other minor illnesses should not prevent immunization
  • had a serious allergic reaction to the first dose of hepatitis A vaccine or has a latex allergy

Caring for Your Child After HAV Immunization

Your child may have fever, soreness, and some swelling and redness at the shot site. For pain and fever, check with your doctor to see if you can give either acetaminophen or ibuprofen, and to find out the right dose.

When Should I Call the Doctor?

Call your doctor if:

  • You aren't sure if the vaccine should be postponed or avoided.
  • There are problems after the immunization.
Medically reviewed by: Elana Pearl Ben-Joseph, MD
Date reviewed: February 2022