Protect Yourself From Hepatitis A When Traveling
- New Zealand.
- The United States.
- Western Europe and the Scandinavian countries (Norway, Sweden, and Finland).
Talk to your doctor before visiting any other areas.
If you plan to travel to a part of the world where sanitation is poor or where Reference hepatitis A Opens New Window is a known problem, see your doctor about receiving the hepatitis A vaccine (What is a Reference PDF Opens New Window document?), Reference immunoglobulin Opens New Window (IG), or the combination Reference hepatitis A and B vaccine. (Risk of Reference hepatitis B Opens New Window increases if you go to a high-risk country frequently or stay for a long time.)
- Completing the entire hepatitis A vaccination series protects against HAV for at least 25 years in adults and 14 years in children.Reference 2 In adults (people older than 18 years of age), it is best if the first shot is given at least 4 weeks before a person may be exposed to the hepatitis A virus. But the vaccine does provide some protection shortly after the first shot.Reference 3 A second shot should be given 6 to 18 months later to prolong protection. (Immunization with hepatitis A vaccine is recommended for all children beginning at 1 year of age. Two separate doses are given at least 6 months apart. The second shot should be given 6 to 18 months after the first shot.)
- If you receive IG instead of the hepatitis A vaccine and are planning an extended stay in an area where hepatitis A is a problem, you should get a higher dose of IG. You will need to get additional injections of the same high dose of IG every 3 to 5 months.
- Immunoglobulin is made from components of human blood. There is no risk of getting a blood-borne disease from IG made in the United States. The safety of IG manufactured in other countries cannot be guaranteed.
- If you will be visiting countries where hepatitis A is a problem and you will be staying for less than 3 months, you will receive enough protection at a lower cost by choosing the IG injection. But if you plan to travel abroad on a regular basis, getting the vaccine will save you money long-term.
- People who are allergic to the components of the hepatitis A vaccine and children younger than 1 year of age should receive IG.
When traveling in an area where hepatitis A is a known problem or where water quality is questionable:
- Boil water before you drink it. Bring the water to a rolling boil for 1 minute. If you are at an elevation of 6562 ft (2000 m) or higher, boil the water for 3 minutes. Do not drink tap water or well water or beverages containing ice cubes.
- Do not brush your teeth with tap water or well water.
- Make sure all foods are cooked well, especially shellfish.
- Eat only raw fruits and vegetables that you have washed in uncontaminated water and peeled yourself.
- Don't swim in water that has not been treated with chlorine.
- Don't drink bath or shower water.
|By:||Reference Healthwise Staff||Last Revised: Reference August 30, 2012|
|Medical Review:||Reference E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Reference W. Thomas London, MD - Hepatology