Skip to main content

Hepatitis A and B

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

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

To prevent getting Hepatitis A, we encourage you to wash your hands before eating and wash your hands after going to the bathroom. Do not share drinks, food or eating utensils.

To protect yourself from Hepatitis A, a vaccine is available and recommended for all students and anyone over the age of 2. The vaccine, HAVRIX, is administered on day 0 and a second dose 6 months later.

The vaccine is usually 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. The vaccine, Heplisav-B, is administered in a series of two to three shots on day 0 and subsequent doses 4 weeks apart.

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

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


Have questions? Contact Student Health services at 858-534-3300.