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What are the Pros and Cons of Hepatitis a Immunization?

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  • Written By: N. Ayers
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 17 September 2016
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The hepatitis A vaccine is given by injection into the upper arm muscle of adults and children as well as in the thigh muscle for toddlers. This shot is used to prevent the hepatitis A virus (HAV), which causes severe liver infection. The advantages of this immunization are that it is very effective at preventing hepatitis A, it protects the recipient for many years and it becomes effective within a short period of time. This disadvantages of a hepatitis A immunization are various side effects, most of which are not serious, and the possibility of an allergic reaction. One should consider all of the pros and cons of this immunization before agreeing to the procedure.

Adults and children who get an hepatitis A vaccine can be protected from physical conditions caused by the virus, including flue-like illnesses, yellow eyes or skin, stomach pains and diarrhea. Two doses of the shot are necessary to receive full protection from this disease. The second dose is typically administered six months after the first dose. Adults who receive the full hepatitis A immunization can be protected for a minimum of 25 years.

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Children who get both doses of the vaccine have at least 14-20 years of protection from this virus. Hepatitis A immunization also helps to prevent frequent hospitalizations and possible death and greatly reduces the risk of spreading this disease to others in the same household. This vaccine is made with an inactive form of the virus, which promotes the body's production of antibodies to fight HAV. Hepatitis A immunization is effective two weeks following the first dose, a factor that can be placed among its many advantages.

As with many immunizations, the disadvantages of the hepatitis A vaccine are its side effects. One of the most common side effects caused by hepatitis A immunization is a certain amount of pain, swelling, bruising and redness where the shot was given. Other side effects can include headaches, loss of appetite, nausea, mild fever and fatigue. These problems might occur within three to five days after the vaccine is delivered, and they usually last for as long as 48 hours.

An allergic reaction to components in the vaccine is a serious side effect that occurs within minutes to a few hours after the shot is administered. Although an allergic reaction is rare, the symptoms of an allergic reaction following hepatitis A immunization might include development of a rash, high fever, difficulty breathing or swallowing, itching, weakness and dizziness. Adults are more likely than children to suffer from many of the side effects caused by the HAV vaccine.

One can weigh the pros and cons when deciding whether to get a hepatitis A immunization. Health experts have stressed the importance of getting the immunization, regardless of the potential side effects. According to these experts, obtaining the vaccine is safer than risking the chance of getting the virus.

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