Prevention

To avoid the transmission of hepatitis A:

  • Consider being vaccinated
  • Always wash hands thoroughly after going to the toilet, before preparing and eating food, after handling soiled linen e.g. nappies
  • Avoid sharing food, cutlery, crockery, cigarettes and drinks with other people
  • When travelling in regions with poor sanitation, drink bottled water and avoid eating food that has been cleaned or prepared using contaminated water, and
  • In a natural disaster, listen to warnings about contaminated drinking water and follow any instructions issued by the relevant authorities.

A vaccine is available to protect against hepatitis A infection in people two years of age and older. There are currently five hepatitis A vaccines and two combined hepatitis A/hepatitis B vaccines registered for use in Australia. The vaccines are made from inactive hepatitis A virus. The body reacts with the inactive virus to produce antibodies that protect against infection. Clinical trials have shown that the hepatitis A vaccine is effective in preventing infection in about 95% of people.

The Australian Immunisation Handbook recommends hepatitis A vaccinations for:

  • Travellers to endemic areas, which means developing countries
  • All Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children between 18 months and six years of age in north Queensland
  • Workers in rural and remote Indigenous communities
  • Child day-care and pre-school staff
  • People with intellectual disabilities and their carers
  • Healthcare workers employed in paediatric wards, intensive care units and emergency departments that provide for substantial populations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and nursing and medical staff on rural and remote Indigenous communities
  • Sewage workers
  • Men who have sex with men
  • People who inject drugs
  • People with chronic liver disease of any aetiology, and
  • People with haemophilia who may receive pooled plasma concentrates.