What is the combined hepatitis A and B vaccine?
This vaccine protects you from becoming infected with either the hepatitis A and hepatitis B viruses. Available to people over the age of 18, it’s given as a course of three injections into muscle. The initial dose is followed up with two further injections one and three months later.
Who should get the combined hepatitis A and B vaccine?
This vaccine is recommended for people are at risk of being exposed to hepatitis A and B.
Travellers to an area where rates of hepatitis A or B infections are high are advised to get the vaccination, including:
- sub-Saharan and north Africa
- east and southeast Asia
- some parts of the Far East – excluding Japan
- the Middle East
- southern and eastern Europe
- South and Central America
People who have sex with multiple partners would also benefit from the protection given by the combined Hepatitis A and B vaccination, as would people who inject drugs.
Why get the combined hepatitis A and B vaccination instead of separate jabs?
One of the benefits of getting the combined hepatitis A and B jab is that fewer injections are required, reducing the pain and discomfort of getting vaccinated. It also means fewer visits to the doctor’s office, which is more convenient and makes it easier to complete the vaccine schedule.
What is hepatitis A?
Hepatitis A is a contagious liver disease caused by the hepatitis A virus and spread through contaminated food or drink, or through bodily contact where personal hygiene or sanitation is poor.
Hepatitis A has an incubation period of 14 to 28 days, and people who’ve had hepatitis A develop antibodies that prevent a second infection. The disease can be prevented by vaccination.
What are the symptoms of hepatitis A?
In some cases hepatitis A causes no symptoms. However, infection can cause fever, loss of appetite, nausea, diarrhoea, abdominal pain, and jaundice (a yellowing of the skin). Elderly people and those with other liver diseases are at risk of developing more serious complications.
What is hepatitis B?
Hepatitis B is a liver infection that results from contact with the hepatitis B virus. It can lead to acute illness, lasting from one to three months, or chronic illness, which can persist for six months or more.
Age is a major factor in determining the risk of chronic infection, with babies and young children at higher risk of developing a long term condition than adults.
What are the symptoms of hepatitis B?
Not everyone infected with hepatitis B develops symptoms, and which normally develop eight to twelve weeks after exposure to the virus. Those infected in adulthood may fight the infection off without realising they are infected, though they are still contagious at this time.
Common symptoms of acute hepatitis B include fatigue, fever, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, joint pain, loss of appetite, dark urine colour, or jaundice (a yellowish colour to the skin).
Chronic infection by hepatitis B can remain symptomless for years, although some mild symptoms may come and go. Without treatment, it can lead to liver scarring (cirrhosis) or liver cancer.