Hepatitis A

What is Hepatitis A?

Hepatitis A (HepA) is an infection of the liver caused by the hepatitis A virus. It is more common in low-income countries with poor sanitary conditions and hygiene practices. Regions where HepA are common include: the Indian sub-continent (particularly Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Pakistan), Sub- Saharan and North Africa, parts of the Far East (except Japan), the Middle East, Central and South America. Hep A is spread via:

  • Drinking unclean water
  • Eating food that has been washed or grown in unclean water.
  • Eating food that has been handled by an infected person.
  • Close physical contact with an infected person, including having sex and sharing needles to take drugs.

Who is at risk from Hepatitis A?

Occurrence of HepA is the UK is low therefore HepA vaccination is not offered routinely. You only need to get a vaccine if you at high risk of catching or getting seriously ill from HepA. For example:

  • You are travelling to a country where HepA is common especially if visiting friends and family for long durations.
  • You have recently been in close physical contact with someone with HepA.
  • You have a long-term liver disease.
  • You have a blood clotting disorder, such as people with haemophilia.
  • You are a man who has sex with men.
  • You job puts you at risk of infection – for example, you are a healthcare worker or a sewage worker.

What are the symptoms?

HepA infections may occur without symptoms or may result in a mild illness lasting a few weeks. The disease is more severe with advancing age. Symptoms include:

  • A high temperature
  • Flu-like symptoms, such as tiredness headache and muscle pains
  • Feeling sick and being sick
  • Pain in your upper tummy
  • Diarrhoea and constipation
  • Pale yellow or paly grey poo
  • Dark brown pee
  • Itchy skin – and/or raised rash (hives)
  • Yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes (jaundice)

DC Hepatitis A Vaccination Service?

HepA vaccination is recommended for travellers who may be at increased risk of HepA infection including:

  • Those staying with or visiting the local population.
  • Frequent and/or long-stay travellers to areas where sanitation and food hygiene are likely to be poor.
  • Those with existing medical conditions such as liver disease or haemophilia
  • Men who have sex with men
  • People who inject drugs
  • Those who may be exposed to the virus through their work.
  • Those going to areas of HepA outbreaks who have limited access to safe water and medical care.

Can I use the DC Hepatitis A Vaccination Service?

The HepA vaccine is usually given in the upper arm as two doses given 6-12 months apart. This HepA is not suitable to those that:

  • Have hight temperature.
  • Develop allergic reactions after vaccination.
  • That are allergic to the HepA vaccination or any components of the vaccine. This includes allergic reactions to eggs and chicken protein (brand specific)

Your DC pharmacist will double check your suitability for the vaccine.

What are the side effects to the Hepatitis A Vaccine?

HepA side effects tend to mild and short lived. They include tenderness, redness and swelling at the injection site. Less commonly, high temperature, headaches, dizziness and generally feeling unwell.

What happens next?

  1. Book a virtual consultation via online portal
  2. A DC pharmacist will review your suitability for the Hepatitis A vaccine service
  3. Receive vaccine at our centres

How long will this take?

The first consultation will take 15 – 30 minutes (depending on your past medical history). The vaccination appointment will take 30 minutes (including a 15 minutes observed wait in case of severe reaction)