Description

Vaccination is the best protection against hepatitis A and its complications. Hepatitis A is a liver infection caused by the hepatitis A virus. The vaccine is 95% to 100% effective in preventing the infection. It is indicated for anyone who wants to reduce their risk of getting hepatitis A.

Depending on the person’s age, 1 or 2 doses of the vaccine are required over a 5-month period to ensure the best possible protection.

For people under age 20, 1 dose of the hepatitis A vaccine is enough to ensure effective protection. People aged 20 or older will need 2 doses of the vaccine.

One dose of the hepatitis A and hepatitis B vaccine is offered free of charge in Grade 4 of primary school.

The vaccine provides protection for many years if it is given before the person gets the disease.

Symptoms after vaccination

Some symptoms may be caused by the vaccine, for example, redness at the injection site. Other problems may occur by chance and are not related to the vaccine, for example, a cold, gastroenteritis or a headache.

Hepatitis A vaccine is safe. Most reactions are harmless and do not last long.

The Nature and Frequency of Possible Reactions to Vaccine
FrequencyPossible reactions to the vaccine

In most cases
(more than 50% of people)

  • Pain at the injection site

Very often
(less than 50% of people)

  • Redness and swelling at the infection site
  • Headache, muscle soreness, fatigue
  • Irritability in children aged 12 to 23 months

Often
(less than 10% of people)

  • Skin rash in children aged 12 to 23 months
  • Fever, gastro intestinal upsets, respiratory symptoms

Note: Reactions at the injection site are less common among children.

The hepatitis A vaccine has been used for more than 20 years and millions of doses have been administered worldwide. According to current scientific evidence, no serious or unexpected problems are associated with the vaccine. No link has been found between the vaccine and certain severe diseases or deaths.

As for all immunization programs, the Ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux monitors the side effects of hepatitis A vaccination under the Programme de surveillance passive des effets secondaires possiblement reliés à l’immunisation (ESPRI) [Passive surveillance program for possible vaccine-related side effects].

What to Do after Vaccination

Tips to follow immediately following vaccination

Wait 15 minutes before leaving premises where vaccine is received. If an allergic reaction occurs, the symptoms will appear a few minutes after the vaccination.

If you feel side effects, immediately inform the person giving the vaccine. That person will be able to treat you immediately.

Tips to follow at home

If you experience redness, pain or swelling at the injection site, apply a cold, damp compress on it.

Use medication for fever or discomfort if needed.

When to Seek Medical Help

See a doctor if one of the following applies to you:

  • You experience serious and unusual symptoms
  • Your symptoms get worse instead of improving
  • Your symptoms last over 48 hours