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Hepatitis A and B

H​​epatitis A

Hepatitis A is a highly contagious disease, with the predominant mode of transmission being poor hygiene practices (not washing hands after using the toilet and then preparing food or drink for others - this is known as the fecal-oral route). The Hepatitis A vaccine is indicated for persons greater than 2 years of age.

The following individuals are at increased risk for infection with Hepatitis A:

  • Travelers to Third World or under-developed countries
  • Military personnel
  • Anyone living in areas of high endemicity
  • Certain ethnic groups
  • Persons engaging in high-risk sexual activity
  • Residents of a community experiencing an outbreak
  • Persons exposed to sewage (i.e., surfers)

Recent Outbreak of Hepatitis A in San Diego

Read important information at the County website: http://bit.ly/2x6d2Ct

  • Remember to wash your hands thoroughly before eating, and after using the restroom.
  • Don't share food, drinks, or smokes with others.
  • Use your own towels, toothbrushes and eating utensils.

UC San Diego Health and the San Diego Public Health Department have advised us to give the Hepatitis A vaccine only those at high risk of getting Hepatitis A. Those at high risk include:

  • Homeless
  • Injectable drug abuse
  • MSM/Bisexual/Transgender
  • HIV positive
  • Students who are providing direct patient care such as medical students or those who are working with the homeless.
  • Students who are traveling to countries with a high risk of Hepatitis A

If you are not in the high risk category, you are at low risk of getting Hepatitis A.  To prevent getting Hepatitis A, we encourage you to wash your hands before eating, wash your hands after going to the bathroom.  Do not share drinks, food or eating utensils.

  1. Students can be tested for immunity for Hepatitis A with a Hepatitis A titer.  To get this order, call your SHS primary care provider or go through Nurses Clinic (No cost for SHIP; RAFT $4.19; FFS $19.19 ($4.19 +$15 lab handling fee)
  2. If you have had 2 doses of Hep A vaccine or history of Hepatitis A, you DO NOT need a titer. Please try to check your vaccine records to see if you need a blood test. 
  3. To get the Hepatitis A vaccine, students must go through Nurses Clinic (SHIP- no cost for vaccine or visit; RAFT or SHIP- $40)

The vaccine is contraindicated if there is a known allergy to any vaccine component (the vaccine is made in human cells, not blood plasma; and contains no egg antigens). There is no risk of HIV transmission or of any other disease with this vaccine. The vaccine, HAVRIX, is administered on day 0 and again 6 months later.

The vaccine is effective in 30 days. The duration of vaccine effectiveness is now believed to be lifelong. The vaccine does NOT protect against any other Hepatitis virus or other pathogens known to infect the liver. Possible side effects might include: pain and redness at the injection site, headache, fatigue, loss of appetite, or nausea.

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is a highly contagious, potentially deadly virus. Anyone can get Hepatitis B, as it can be spread in many different ways. It is most often contracted through sex. It can be passed from mother to unborn baby in countries where the virus is endemic.

You MAY be at risk if....

  • You are a health care professional
  • You are a first-line responder who gives first aid or medical assistance (police, firefighter, EMT)
  • You ever come in contact with blood or body fluids at work
  • You or your parents have immigrated from a country where the virus is endemic (Asia, Africa)

You ARE at risk if.....

  • You have had more than one sexual partner in the last six months
  • You have had unprotected sex (without a condom)
  • You or your partner have ever been diagnosed with a sexually transmitted disease (herpes, gonorrhea, syphilis, chlamydia, genital warts, AIDS)
  • Someone in your household is a carrier of the Hepatitis B virus
  • You or your partner have had sexual contact with someone who has Hepatitis B or is at risk

Protect Yourself

The best way to protect yourself against this potentially fatal disease is to be vaccinated. Ideally the vaccine is given in a series of three shots over a period of six months (day 0, 1-2 months, and 4-6 months). 80% of protection is obtained after the first two doses and 98% protection after three doses are administered.

Possible side effects of the vaccine might include: pain and redness at the injection site, fever, headache, or dizziness.

If you need to complete the Hep A or B vaccine series, or need other immunizations, visit the Student Health Nurse's Clinic.

Have questions? Contact a Health Educator at (858) 822-0455.