Ask the Doctor
Volusia Parent|November 2019
Introducing our new monthly feature, Ask the Doctor. Our healthcare partners will be answering your questions.

What is the purpose, benefits and risk of the Hepatitis A Vaccine? Why has this become highly suggested?

Hepatitis A is a serious liver disease, caused by the Hepatitis A Virus (HAV). HAV is spread person to person, through contact with stool of those who are infected, including if the infected person does not wash his or her hands properly. Hepatitis A can also be transmitted through contaminated food or water. Symptoms of hepatitis A include nausea, vomiting, fever, severe abdominal pain, diarrhea, and jaundice (yellowing of the skin). Hepatitis A can cause liver failure and even death, but this is more common in adults over 50 years of age.

Although the vaccine has been available for over twenty years, a recent outbreak of Hepatitis A in Florida has increased the attention to the disease and interest in the immunization. On August 1, 2019, the Florida Surgeon General issued a Public Health Emergency in response to the outbreak. There have been 2,540 cases of hepatitis A in Florida since January 1 of this year. There are over 200 reported cases in Volusia County, which is the third highest number of cases in the state of Florida. Flagler County Health Department has reported eight cases so far this year.

Since the Hepatitis A Vaccine became available in 1995, the rates of Hepatitis A infection have decreased by 95%. The vaccine is an inactivated, or killed, vaccine; there are no live or active components of the vaccine.

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