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  • Dec 21, 2023

Take Steps to Protect Yourself and Get Vaccinated Against Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A outbreaks are happening in our community. Find out how you can take steps to protect yourself and get vaccinated against Hep A.

Hep A is a liver infection caused by the Hepatitis A virus (HAV). It is very contagious but preventable with a vaccine. The virus is easily transmitted by contact with someone that has the virus, including sexual contact. Eating contaminated food and drink is another way to get Hep A. 

What are the symptoms?
Not everyone who has Hep A shows symptoms. Adults may develop symptoms more than children. If symptoms do develop, they usually appear 2 - 7 weeks after exposure to the virus and may last up to 6 months in extreme cases. Hep A symptoms may include:

  • Yellow skin or eyes

  • Fever

  • Lack of appetite

  • Upset stomach/stomach pains

  • Vomiting 

  • Diarrhea

  • Joint and muscle pain

  • Exhaustion

  • Dark urine or light-colored stools

How is Hepatitis A diagnosed and treated?
Hep A is diagnosed by testing blood. Most people will recover by resting, staying hydrated (drinking fluids) and eating healthy meals. People who develop more severe symptoms may need hospital care.

How can I protect myself against Hepatitis A?
The best way to protect yourself against Hep A is to complete the two dose series of the vaccine. Vaccination is recommended as early as 12 months old and is proven to be safe and effective. If you think you were exposed to the virus, you can reduce your risk of illness by receiving a single dose of the vaccine within two weeks of the exposure. 

Practicing good hygiene is another great way to protect yourself. Thoroughly washing your hands with warm water and soap after using the bathroom, changing diapers, and before preparing or eating foods can help prevent the spread of Hep A. 

Who should get the vaccine?
Hep A vaccination is recommended for everyone ages 12 months and older. People who are at increased risk of Hep A may include:

  • People who use or inject drugs

  • Men who have sex with men

  • International travelers

  • Pregnant woman

  • Unhoused people

  • People with chronic liver disease or HIV

Talk with your primary care provider to make sure you are up to date on your Hep A vaccine. 

What should I do if I have been exposed to Hepatitis A?
If you believe you were exposed you should contact your Primary Care Provider. If you do not have a primary care provider, CHA’s Zinberg Clinic offers expert medical care for patients who develop Hep A. The clinic is now offering telehealth visits as well as Urgent Care visits. If you think you have been exposed to Hep A, you can call the Zinberg Clinic at 617-665-1606 or click here to learn more.  

More Hepatitis A Information

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