Hepatitis and Hepatitis Vaccines

What is Viral Hepatitis?

The word “hepatitis” means inflammation of the liver. Hepatitis is most often caused by a virus. In the US, the most common types are Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, and Hepatitis C.

Non-viral forms of hepatitis can occur from heavy alcohol use, toxins, and from some medications and certain medical conditions.

Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is a serious liver disease. It is caused by the hepatitis A virus (HAV). HAV is spread from person to person through contact with the feces (stool) of people who are infected, which can easily happen if someone does not wash his or her hands properly.  You can also get hepatitis A from food, water, or objects contaminated with HAV.

Hepatitis A vaccine can prevent hepatitis A. Hepatitis A vaccines were recommended in the United States beginning in 1996. Since then, the number of cases reported each year in the U.S. has dropped from around 31,000 cases to fewer than 1,500 cases.

Hepatitis A vaccine is an inactivated (killed) vaccine. You will need 2 doses for long-lasting protection. These doses should be given at least 6 months apart.

Children are routinely vaccinated between their first and second birthdays (12 through 23 months of age).  Older children and adolescents can get the vaccine after 23 months. Adults who have not been vaccinated previously and want to be protected against hepatitis A can also get the vaccine.

You should get hepatitis A vaccine if you:

  • are traveling to countries where hepatitis A is common,
  • are a man who has sex with other men,
  • use illegal drugs,
  • have a chronic liver disease such as hepatitis B or hepatitis C,
  • are being treated with clotting-factor concentrates,
  • work with hepatitis A-infected animals or in a hepatitis A research laboratory, or
  • expect to have close personal contact with an international adoptee from a country where hepatitis A is common

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is a liver disease caused by the Hepatitis B virus (HBV). It ranges in severity from a mild illness, lasting a few weeks (acute), to a serious long-term (chronic) illness that can lead to liver disease or liver cancer.

Hepatitis B virus spreads through blood or other body fluids that contain small amounts of blood from an infected person. Babies can become infected by their infected mothers during birth. People can spread the virus even when they have no symptoms.

The hepatitis B virus can live on objects for 7 days or more. Even if you don’t see any blood, there could be virus on an object

Hepatitis B vaccine can prevent hepatitis B. Hepatitis B vaccination is recommended for all infants, older children and adolescents who were not vaccinated previously, and adults at risk for HBV infection.

Hepatitis B vaccination is recommended for:

  • All infants, starting with the first dose of Hepatitis B vaccine at birth
  • All children and adolescents younger than 19 years of age who have not been vaccinated
  • People whose sex partners have Hepatitis B
  • Sexually active persons who are not in a long-term, mutually monogamous relationship.
  • Persons seeking evaluation or treatment for a sexually transmitted disease
  • Men who have sexual contact with other men
  • People who share needles, syringes, or other drug-injection equipment
  • People who have close household contact with someone infected with the Hepatitis B virus
  • Health care and public safety workers at risk for exposure to blood or blood-contaminated body fluids on the job
  • People with end-stage renal disease, including predialysis, hemodialysis, peritoneal dialysis, and home dialysis patients
  • Residents and staff of facilities for developmentally disabled persons
  • Travelers to regions with moderate or high rates of Hepatitis B
  • People with chronic liver disease
  • People with HIV infection
  • Anyone who wishes to be protected from Hepatitis B virus infection

Hepatitis C

Hepatitis C is a liver disease caused by the Hepatitis C virus (HCV). HCV infection sometimes results in an acute illness, but most often becomes a chronic condition that can lead to cirrhosis of the liver and liver cancer.

Hepatitis C virus is spread by contact with the blood of an infected person, primarily through sharing contaminated needles to inject drugs.

Currently, there is no hepatitis C vaccination available.


The Adair County Health Department has both the hepatitis A and B vaccines available.  These vaccines are available during clinic hours Monday, Wednesday, or Friday from 8:00-4:00.

Cost of the vaccines vary, so please call the clinic for more information at (660)665-8491.


You can also find more information about hepatitis by following links below:

Hepatitis A_ CDC Fact Sheet

Hepatitis B_CDC Fact Sheet 

Hepatitis C_CDC Fact Sheet

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