Various immunization programmes are ongoing globally to tackle and prevent Infectious diseases from spreading. However, the success of initiatives hinges on their acceptance by populations. Many programs are large scale in nature, and involve massive effort; but due to apprehensions about vaccines, the rate of infections continue to swell. This includes hepatitis A infections, that are rapidly spreading from geographical locations known to have heavy caseloads. One of the problems with Hepatitis A infections, is the absence of symptoms, that make it difficult for the infected person to take suitable remedial action to prevent its spread. This is quite unlike other infections, and makes it all the more important for immunization from the infection. Subsequent sections will dwell on actual, possible hepatitis a vaccine side effects to help allay fears in the minds of individuals considering the vaccine.

Hepatitis infections – the need for concerted actions

While statistics of the increase in numbers are reason enough for greater acceptance of the immunization programme, there are other reasons that lend a sense of urgency. Hepatitis infections of the past typically presented mild/moderate symptoms, with a small percentage of the infection, having to cope with adverse outcomes. However, this trend is changing slightly, with hospitalization rates climbing among the infected.

Additionally, the infection is contagious in nature, and this poses a risk as the rate of transmission of the infection among certain sections of society were elevated. The condition that compromises the liver through inflammation, results in sickness that could either be mild or severe.  The time required for a full recovery from the condition could stretch to weeks.  There is also the possibility of few patients having to contend with liver damage that could be long term in nature.  The silver lining is the relatively lower mortality rates; linked to pre-existing liver ailments or age-related degenerative conditions.

Conditions that are conducive to the spread of hepatitis

The spread of the contagious infection has been mapped to various reasons, and this includes the lack of proper hygiene. Entire communities are at risk of contracting the infection due to poor sanitation, hygiene, and the lack of clean drinking water. Statistics indicate that certain neighborhoods and localities are more at risk due to the above, and it is necessary for all residents of such communities to get vaccinated. There are categories of individuals who are at higher risk, than others, due to behavior, or practices. For instance, males who indulge in same gender sex, drug addicts and individuals who defecate it the open are all at higher risk. This is because the infection spreads through contaminated substances, or body fluids – during anal sex, use of contaminated needles, and coming in contact feces. Care givers are also at risk of contracting the infection, due to the nature of caregiving. Healthcare workers or family members of elderly patients or bedridden patients on diapers are at risk, due to the possibility of coming in contact with body fluids. infection from spreading. The possibility of the infection having stronger effects on patients with cirrhosis of the liver or other chronic liver disease exists, and it is therefore necessary for patients to be on guard and take suitable preventive measures to prevent infections.

Identifying hepatitis A infections in an individual

It is necessary to check for distinct symptoms of hepatitis infections and take suitable action. It is also pertinent to be aware that infected patients at times may not experience or show any symptoms of the condition, at times. Commonly reported symptoms can however, help in narrowing down the reason, and choosing proper laboratory investigations to confirm the infection. Symptoms such as fever and fatigue are relatively common, including a sudden loss of appetite. Patients may experience a sudden change in skin color as a result of the condition and its impact on the liver. Pain in the stomach, nausea and possible vomiting are related conditions and may also be experienced commonly.

There is the likelihood of patients experiencing pain in the joints, as a result of the infection. Other symptoms include diarrhea, and change in the color of urine, stools.

Time required for healing

Most symptoms typically resolve in lesser than two months, and earlier cases of infections saw lesser hospitalization. However, as mentioned above, this has changed, and the percentage of patients with the condition who require hospitalization has dramatically increased to more than 40%. This causes increased burden on healthcare, and can be avoided with timely immunization.

Reinfections and protection of vaccines

A patient infected with hepatitis A, will never get re-infected with the condition in his or her lifetime. Protection from re-infection is for entire life, and this is attributed to the antibodies released by the bodies to counter the infection.

Vaccines are known to protect immunized populations from the infection for a period of 20 years for all, and in a large number of cases, this could last for entire life. This applies to recipients of both doses of the vaccination, with the required gap between two doses. Another reason that makes the vaccine a safe choice is the fact that it does not contain any live virus as has been wrongly claimed. Unfounded and unsubstantiated claims, spread online with malicious intent has contributed to the disinformation, that has created apprehension in the minds of individuals considering the vaccine. The high levels of safety are confirmed by the fact that pregnant women and patients with auto immune conditions can also be vaccinated without the fear of unwanted outcomes.

Difference between hepatitis A and hepatitis B  

Both Hepatitis A and B infections have an effect on the liver. Hep A is identified as a short-term infection, and is labelled as acute, while Hep B is long-term in nature and is labelled as chronic.  Hep A spreads through contact, and when individuals share contaminated substances. Hep B spreads through the blood. This makes Hep A more contagious in nature, when compared with Hep B, and requires immunization on priority, especially among high-risk individuals.

Vaccinations for both types of the infections are not the same. Hep A vaccines require two doses with six months gap between the two. Hep B vaccines require three doses, though latest options include two dosage vaccines. The three-dosage vaccine is meant for immunization of individuals above the age of 18 years only. While both the vaccines are effectively different, and immunization is carried out as per assessment or need, it is possible for individuals to avail combination vaccines for protection from both the infections.

Commonly reported Hepatitis a vaccine side effects

As mentioned above, the vaccine is relatively safe and will not cause any harm or effects in most users. However, there is also the possibility of undesirable effects in individuals. Some are relatively common in occurrence, while some are infrequent in nature. For instance, inflammation at the injection site, is one of the most commonly reported effects of the vaccine. Patients may experience warmth at the site of injection.  Reddish appearance at the site of needle insertion is another possible effect, and this may be experienced by the individual with all injections. A sudden loss of appetite, is another possibility this is however, short term in nature, and the patient will naturally regain lost appetite, a few days after the vaccination. Nausea, headache, sickness and possible low grade fever are other possible undesirable effects of the vaccine.

Adverse effects of hep A vaccination  

In addition to the above, there is also the possibility of individuals experiencing strong or adverse effects. However, the possibility of occurrence is relatively rare and will not be experienced by most users. For instance, there is the possibility of individuals suddenly losing voice after the vaccination. Similarly, there could be nasal congestion experienced by recipients of the vaccine. Other conditions include running nose, sneezing that is abnormal, and breathing difficulties. The throat may turn sore, and in some patients, there is the possibility of a reddish discoloration in the area around the ears. Pain may be experienced in the body, while some may end up with swelling in the face, around the eyes, and inside the nose. There could be difficulty in swallowing food or liquid, and for some there is the possibility of an inflammation of the lymph gland.

Any indications of allergies need to be handled urgency, to prevent the condition from quickly aggravating. For instance, difficulty in breathing, hives, sudden increase in heart beat rate, facial swelling and inflammation of the throat need swift medical intervention.

Possible interactions with other medications

Hepatitis A vaccines may interact with certain medications due to the immune activation of lymphocytes by the mechanism of action. As a consequence of this, the B,T cells that are released attack the antigen, impacting the vaccine’s long-term protection. Medications that can interact with the vaccine include medications that are prescribed for treating various immune system conditions, corticosteroids and drugs that are part of chemotherapy.

Recommended practices among the vaccinated

Individuals down with any illness, are advised to put off the vaccination, till the condition improves. Patients with a history of allergies to vaccines or the ingredients in certain vaccines are to avoid the vaccine and look at alternatives. Patients with a history of allergies to Neomycin and Yeast are also to choose alternatives to prevent untoward effects of allergies. It is necessary to add that common cold is not a cause or concern, and tis relatively safe for patients with a common cold to take the vaccine. When the cold is persistent or intense in nature, medical advice may be sought.

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