Hepatitis A (HAV)

About the hepatitis A vaccine

  • The hepatitis A vaccine protects people against the highly contagious hepatitis A virus (HAV).
  • The vaccine may be given to children and adults 6 months of age and older who are at increased risk of infection.
  • The hepatitis A vaccine is free to people at a higher risk of hepatitis A infection.
  • If you may have been in contact with a person infected with hepatitis A, you should receive this vaccine within 2 weeks of exposure to prevent infection.


The hepatitis A vaccine is recommended for people at high risk of infection, including: 

  • people who have hemophilia or receive repeated infusions of blood or blood products;
  • people who inject illegal drugs or share drug snorting, smoking, or injecting equipment;
  • males who have sex with other males;
  • people with HIV, hepatitis B or hepatitis C infection, or chronic liver disease;
  • people who have had a stem cell transplant;
  • people who will have or have had a liver transplant;
  • inmates of a correctional facility in which there could be a hepatitis A outbreak;
  • people who are in close contact with persons infected by the hepatitis A virus – such as people living in the same house, sexual partners, close friends, and children in the same daycare; and
  • people who have eaten food prepared by a food handler with hepatitis A infection.

The vaccine is also recommended, but not provided for free, to people likely to come in contact with or spread the hepatitis A virus, including:

  • people living, working or travelling in developing countries, particularly in rural areas;
  • people how prepare and handle food;
  • people with multiple sex partners;
  • zoo-keepers, veterinarians and researchers who handle animals;
  • people involved in research on hepatitis A virus, or the production of hepatitis A vaccine; and
  • people who have been directed to receive this immunization by their employer
  • Hepatitis A is a highly contagious liver infection caused by the hepatitis A virus.
  • The hepatitis A virus is found in the stool and blood of infected people.
  • It is spread through contaminated food and water or close contact with infected people.
  • The virus can also be spread by sexual contact or sharing of equipment used in illegal drug use, such as needles.
  • Symptoms may include fever, abdominal pain, jaundice (yellow skin/eyes), nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, dark urine and pale stools.
  • Some people, especially young children, may not have any symptoms but can still spread the disease. If symptoms develop, they usually appear 2 to 7 weeks after infection.
  • Hepatitis A is usually a short-term infection but may be more complicated in those with certain conditions.
  • The best way to prevent hepatitis A is to get vaccinated.
  • Washing your hands properly is important in preventing transmission of hepatitis A.
  • This vaccine is safe and very effective.
  • The hepatitis A vaccine is the best way to protect against hepatitis A and its complications.
  • When you or your child get vaccinated, you help protect the spread to others too.
  • This vaccination is free in the Yukon for those who are at high risk of complications.
  • Common reactions to the immunization may include redness, tenderness and swelling at the injection site.
  • Some may develop a fever, headache, fatigue or digestive problems. These are generally mild and last 1 to 2 days.
  • Side effects of the vaccination are easily relieved by applying a cold and damp compress to the site and administering acetaminophen or ibuprofen for temperatures 38.5°C or higher.
  • See your health care provider if your symptoms are severe or last longer than 48 hours.
  • It is important to stay in the clinic for 15 minutes after getting any immunization because there is a rare possibility of developing a severe allergic reaction which is treatable at the clinic. This happens to less than 1 in 1 million people. If it happens after you leave the clinic, call 911 or the local emergency number. If you or your child experiences any serious or unexpected reactions, please contact your physician and report all severe reactions to one of the nurses at your local Health Centre.

Find out how to get immunized