Also called infectious hepatitis, hepatitis A is a viral infection of the liver which can cause jaundice (a yellow skin color due to the accumulation of bilirubin seen in a diseased or immature liver) and transient liver damage. It is usually a benign disease that lasts about one month with complete recovery for the vast majority of children. However, one can be quite sick and fatigued for the month that it takes for the virus to run it’s course. Rarely, hepatitis A can cause serious liver damage with the need for liver transplantation. This is a primary reason for giving hepatitis A vaccine to children in the US.
This vaccine is currently required for school admission to kindergarten or first grade by state law and is recommended for all children by the vaccine committees. This is a change from the past when it was not required. Hepatitis A vaccine is especially needed for children who will be traveling to third world countries where hepatitis A is a problem. It requires two doses at least 6 months apart to be fully and permanently effective. However if you are in a time crunch, one dose given at least two weeks before departure, can help prevent the disease.
View the CDC vaccine information sheet here: vis-hep-a.pdf