Hepatitis A is an infection of the liver that is caused by the hepatitis A virus. It is caught through contaminated food and water, or through person-to-person contact if there is poor personal hygiene.

High risk areas: the Indian, African, Central American, and South American sub-continents, the Far East, and Eastern Europe.

The Hepatitis A vaccination is recommended for:

  • anyone who is travelling to areas of moderate or high risk for prolonged periods, particularly if sanitation and food hygiene are likely to be poor,
  • anyone who is going to live, or stay for a long time, in a country where hepatitis A is endemic (constantly present), and
  • anyone with chronic liver disease because hepatitis A can be more serious for people with this condition.

Vaccination is not considered necessary if you are travelling to Northern, or Western, Europe, North America, Australia, New Zealand, or Japan.

The vaccine

A single injection of the vaccine should be given two weeks before you leave, although it can be given up to the day of your departure if necessary. This will protect you against hepatitis A for about a year. A booster dose, given 6-12 months after the first, will protect you for up to 20 years.

A combined hepatitis A and B vaccine, and a combined hepatitis A and typhoid vaccine are also available. These vaccines may be useful if you require protection against both diseases.

The hepatitis A vaccine cannot be given to infants who are under one year of age.