Should I get vaccinated for hepatitis?



The hepatitis A vaccine is recommended for travel in developing countries. This can include but is not limited to portions of Asia, Africa, and Central and South America. Hepatitis A is a virus that can be transmitted from sewage-contaminated water. Certain fruits, vegetables, or other uncooked foods that are exposed to this water can carry the virus. Seeing your family doctor to discuss your vaccinations prior to travel is always a good idea.

You'll need a one-time vaccine for hepatitis A and B if a doctor thinks it's necessary—for example, because you are human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) positive or exposed to blood on the job, or you travel to countries where the hepatitis B virus (HBV) is common. It's recommended not only for adults in certain high-risk groups, but also for anyone who wants to prevent HBV.

Stacy Wiegman, PharmD
Pharmacy Specialist

Hepatitis A is a dangerous liver infection, so travelers to areas with high rates of infection should be vaccinated. Protection against the disease begins two to four weeks after you get the vaccine, but to be fully protected you need a booster shot 6 to 12 months later.

If your travel plans don't allow you to wait four weeks after your first shot, you can get a dose of immunoglobulin (IG) for short-term protection. (If your trip is a short one, the IG may be all you need.) In general, though, you should see your doctor for vaccinations four to six weeks prior to traveling, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The areas where the hepatitis A vaccine is recommended include:

  • Africa
  • Asia (except Japan)
  • The Mediterranean
  • Eastern Europe
  • The Middle East
  • Central and South America
  • Mexico
  • The Caribbean (certain parts)

You should get vaccinated for hepatitis A and hepatitis B if you work in the healthcare field or in fields that require close contact with people such as nursing homes, day care facilities, and rehabilitation centers. If you work in fields that require contact with bodily fluids and/or bloods, you should get vaccinated. If you are caring for someone infected with hepatitis A or B, or if you have hepatitis C, you should get vaccinated. If you have any of the following factors, you should also get vaccinated.

  • HIV or AIDS
  • Autoimmune disorder
  • Use injectable drugs
  • Multiple sex partners
  • Travel to high-risk zone
  • Chronic liver disease
  • Same sex partners

Most children are vaccinated at age one or shortly after for hepatitis A. Your doctor may recommend the hepatitis B vaccinate for your infant. There are no vaccines available in the U.S. for hepatitis C, D, or E at this time.

Continue Learning about Hepatitis



Hepatitis is a liver disease and can cause jaundice, aches in joints and muscles, fatigue, and loss of appetite. Some kinds of hepatitis will last only a short while, but others may take years of treatment or monitoring. Learn mor...

e about hepatitis from our experts.

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.