Hepatitis A vaccination recommended

Hepatitis A: How to avoid infection

 Vaccination offers the best protection against infection with the hepatitis A virus. It is generally well tolerated, so only minor side effects occur rarely. If there is only one vaccination against hepatitis A, two doses are necessary. If, on the other hand, a combination vaccine against hepatitis A and B is used, it must be vaccinated three times. You are then protected for at least twelve years; a refresher is recommended after ten years at the earliest. The costs for the vaccination often have to be borne by yourself.

Active and passive vaccination

A distinction is made between active and passive vaccination for hepatitis A. Active immunization is carried out with an inactivated vaccine that contains parts of the hepatitis A virus. There is no risk that the vaccine will cause hepatitis A disease. The vaccination produces antibodies against the pathogen in the body. If an infection occurs later, they catch the virus and prevent the disease from breaking out.

Human antibodies are used instead of the dead vaccine in certain groups of people. This is called passive vaccination. The procedure is used, among other things, in chronically ill patients or people with a weakened immune system. This type of vaccination is also used when there is an allergy to a component of the standard vaccine. However, the protective effect only lasts for three months.

 

Two vaccination appointments are required.

If there is only one vaccination against hepatitis A, vaccination must be carried out at two different times. After that, the primary immunization is complete. After the first vaccination dose, around 95 per cent of patients have antibodies against the hepatitis A virus in their blood. It takes about 12 to 15 days for the antibodies to form. Due to the rapid effect, the vaccination can also be carried out shortly before a trip.

The second vaccination should be given about six to twelve months after the first. After that, those affected are protected from infection with the pathogen for at least twelve years. According to estimates, however, the vaccination has a much longer effect – possibly 20 to 25 years. Nevertheless, it is recommended for risk groups to refresh the vaccination after ten to twelve years.

Who should get vaccinated?

Hepatitis A vaccination is generally recommended for the following groups of people:

  • Travelers going to an area with an increased risk of hepatitis A infection.
  • Individuals with chronic liver disease.
  • Individuals are more likely to be transfused with blood components such as those with haemophilia.
  • People who work in hospitals, nursing homes, day-care centres, children’s homes, or the police force.
  • People who come into direct contact with wastewater, such as workers in sewage treatment plants.
  • Homosexual men.

 

side effects of vaccination

The hepatitis A vaccine is injected into the muscle – either in the buttocks, upper arm or thigh – and is generally considered well tolerated. Nevertheless, side effects can sometimes occur. These include primarily a slight redness and swelling at the injection site. Subtle symptoms of illness, such as fatigue, increased body temperature and gastrointestinal complaints, can also occur. Which side effects occur always depends on the vaccine used. Therefore, before the procedure, talk to your doctor about possible side effects.

Combined hepatitis A and B vaccination

The hepatitis A vaccination can be given either as a single vaccination or in combination with hepatitis B or typhoid fever. If a vaccine against hepatitis A and B is chosen, three vaccinations must be carried out until the primary immunization is obtained. Similar to the individual immunization against hepatitis B, two vaccinations must be given four weeks apart. The third vaccination, which provides long-term protection for at least ten to twelve years, should be shared between six and twelve months after the first injection.

In the case of a short-term trip, where it is not possible to complete the primary immunization beforehand, vaccination according to a different scheme is also possible. The second dose is given one week, and the third dose is given three weeks after the first vaccination. In such a case, being vaccinated with a fourth dose after about twelve months makes sense.

Vaccination costs

Travel vaccinations are not always covered by health insurance for adults. Some health insurers reimburse the fee if the vaccination is recommended by the Standing Vaccination Committee of the Robert Koch Institute (STIKO). Others only pay what the doctor charges for injecting the vaccine. Therefore, you should always ask your health insurance company about the assumption of costs.

If hepatitis A vaccination is recommended due to occupational exposure, the employer usually bears the costs.

The cost of a hepatitis A vaccination depends on the vaccine used. This costs about 50 euros per injection. In addition, the doctor calculates the costs of the vaccination itself. These can vary depending on which rate the doctor uses for his calculations. The cost of a combined vaccination against hepatitis A and B is around 230 euros.

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