Free Hepatitis A Vaccinations For Qualifying Adolescents
The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) voted on June 27, 2019, to update multiple vaccination recommendations to protect people against the hepatitis A virus.
The ACIP said ‘hepatitis A vaccines are 94-100 percent effective in preventing this serious liver disease.’
This is very positive and timely news since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) announced the ongoing Hepatitis A virus (HAV) outbreak first identified in 2016, has reached 20,512 cases, in 24 states.
The ACIP unanimously voted to recommend that all children and adolescents aged 2 through 18 years who have not previously received hepatitis A vaccine be vaccinated routinely at any age.
Furthermore, another unanimously ACIP vote recommended updating the language around the utilization of hepatitis A vaccine in the Vaccines-for-Children (VFC) program.
These pediatric updates are in addition to the current CDC recommendation for the routine vaccination of children between the ages of 12-23 months.
These new recommendations are under review by the director of the CDC and the Department of Health and Human Services and final recommendations will become official when published in the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR).
Richard M. Haupt, M.D., MPH, vice president and head of vaccines and infectious diseases, Global Medical Affairs at Merck, said in a press release, “We strongly support ACIP’s vote to strengthen the recommendation that children and adolescents aged 2 through 18 years who have not previously received vaccination be routinely vaccinated at any age.”
The ACIP develops written recommendations for the routine administration of vaccines to children and adults.
Hepatitis A is a serious liver disease, but most people who get hepatitis A recover completely.
It is caused by the hepatitis A virus, which is spread from person to person through contact with someone who is infected, which can easily happen if someone does not wash his or her hands properly.
Additionally, food-service workers represent another sizable, at-risk population since their daily responsibilities include directly handling food and drink, says the CDC.
You can also get hepatitis A from food, water, or objects contaminated with HAV.
Symptoms of hepatitis A can include fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, and/or joint pain; severe stomach pains and diarrhea, or jaundice.
HAV symptoms usually appear 2 to 6 weeks after exposure and usually last less than 2 months, although some people can be ill for as long as 6 months. Children often do not have symptoms, but most adults do.
Additionally, immune globulin can provide short-term protection against hepatitis A, both pre- and post-exposure, says the CDC.
The Vaccines For Children program is a federally funded program that provides vaccines at no cost to children who might not otherwise be vaccinated because of inability to pay.