Hepatitis A is a serious disease that used to be more common in the United States. In the 1980s, the United States used to see as many as 30,000 cases a year. Thanks to the vaccine, the number of hepatitis A cases in the United States has dropped by 95%. There are 2 vaccines that protect against hepatitis A: The hepatitis A vaccine protects infants, children, and adults from hepatitis A The hepatitis A and B combination vaccine protects adults from both hepatitis A and hepatitis B Frequently Asked Questions Why is the hepatitis A vaccine important? Because of the vaccine, rates of hepatitis A in the United States are the lowest they’ve been in 40 years. But hepatitis A is still common in other countries, so it’s possible for people to get the disease when they travel. Most people who get hepatitis A only get a mild form of the disease. But in some cases, hepatitis A can lead to serious liver problems — and even death. Getting vaccinated is the best way to prevent hepatitis A. What is hepatitis A? Hepatitis A is a liver disease caused by a virus. Some people with hepatitis A don’t have any symptoms. Other people do develop symptoms, including: Fever Feeling tired Upset stomach and throwing up Not feeling hungry Dark pee or clay-colored poop Pain in the joints and stomach Jaundice (yellow skin or eyes) Symptoms usually last less than 2 months — but they can last as long as 6 months. Hepatitis A usually spreads when someone eats or drinks something that has come in contact with the poop of someone with the hepatitis A virus. For example, hepatitis A can spread when someone who has it doesn’t wash their hands properly after using the bathroom and then touches food. Hepatitis A can also spread from person to person through sexual contact. Learn more about hepatitis A. Who needs to get the hepatitis A vaccine? All children need to get the hepatitis A vaccine — and some adults may need it, too. Infants and children All children need to get the hepatitis A vaccine as part of their routine vaccine schedule. Children need 2 doses of the vaccine at the following ages: 12 through 23 months for the first dose 2 through 4 years for the second dose See the routine vaccination schedule for: Infants and children Adults Adults at increased risk for hepatitis A Adults who are at risk for hepatitis A can also get vaccinated. The shot is given in 2 doses — adults get each dose 6 to 18 months apart. You may be at risk for hepatitis A if you: Travel to a place where it’s common Are a man who has sex with men Use drugs (with or without needles) Are getting treatment for certain bleeding disorders, like hemophilia Adopt a child from a country where hepatitis A is common Work with animals that have hepatitis A — or in a hepatitis A research lab If you’re age 18 and older and at risk for both hepatitis A and hepatitis B, you may be able to get a combination vaccine that protects against both diseases. You may be at risk for both diseases if you: Are traveling to certain countries where hepatitis A is common Are a man who has sex with men Use drugs Talk with your doctor about how to protect your family from hepatitis A. Who should not get the hepatitis A vaccine? Some people should not get the hepatitis A vaccine — or may need to wait to get it. Be sure to tell your doctor before getting vaccinated if you: Have had a life-threatening allergic reaction to the hepatitis A vaccine or any ingredient in the vaccine Are sick What are the side effects of the hepatitis A vaccine? Side effects are usually mild and go away in a few days. They may include: Soreness or redness where the shot was given Fever Headache Feeling tired Serious side effects from the hepatitis A vaccine are very rare. Like any medicine, there's a very small chance that the hepatitis A vaccine could cause a serious reaction. Keep in mind that getting the hepatitis A vaccine is much safer than getting hepatitis A. Learn more about vaccine side effects. Where can I get more information about the hepatitis A vaccine? Vaccine Information Statements (VISs) have detailed information about recommended vaccines. Read the VIS for the hepatitis A vaccine. Find the VIS for the hepatitis A vaccine in other languages.