Te rongoā āraimate mate ate kakā momo A Hepatitis A vaccine

Hepatitis A (hep A) is rare in Aotearoa New Zealand, but is common in some countries. If you are planning to travel, check whether hep A immunisation is advised. Immunisation may also be recommended for certain tamariki at high risk.

What the hep A vaccine protects you from

Hepatitis A (hep A) is viral disease that affects the liver. It is rare in Aotearoa New Zealand, but more common in parts of Africa and Asia.

Early symptoms of hep A infection can be mistaken for the flu. The usual symptoms are nausea and stomach pain, with yellow skin or eyes (jaundice). Some people, especially tamariki, may have no symptoms at all.

There are usually no long-term issues associated with hep A — most people recover completely. Rarely, hep A can lead to complications such as liver failure and death.

Find out about hep A symptoms, causes and treatment.

Hepatitis A

Who should get the hep A vaccine

People travelling to specific countries

We recommend you get immunised if you are planning travel to high or moderate-risk hep A areas.

  • High-risk areas include Africa, Asia, Central and South America, and the Middle East.
  • Moderate-risk areas include the Mediterranean, Eastern Europe (including Russia) and parts of the Pacific.

List of destinations — Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (external link)

Travel advisories by destination — Safe Travel (external link)

The vaccine should be given at least 2 weeks before your trip overseas so your body has time to respond to the vaccine.

There is a cost for the hep A vaccine for travel purposes. This is approximately $50 for a child, and $100 for an adult per dose.

Talk to your healthcare provider for more information.

High-risk groups

High-risk groups can get the hep A vaccine for free. They include:

  • transplant patients
  • tamariki with chronic liver disease
  • close contacts of hep A cases.

Recommended groups (but not free)

Hep A immunisation is recommended but not free for:

  • adults with chronic liver disease
  • men who have sex with men
  • people travelling to specific countries
  • people exposed to poos (faeces) in their work including:
    • employees of early childhood services, particularly where there are children too young to be toilet-trained
    • sewage workers
    • those who work in zoos with primates
  • food handlers during community outbreaks
  • armed forces personnel who are likely to be deployed to high-risk hep A areas.

There is a cost for the hep A vaccine for these groups. This is approximately $50 for a child and $100 for an adult per dose.

Book your hep A vaccine

Find out how to book an immunisation appointment or how to catch up on missed ones.

Which hep A vaccine is used

The free hep A vaccine we use in New Zealand is:

  • Havrix — for ages 16 and older
  • Havrix Junior — for ages 1 to 15 years old (not recommended in children under 1 year old).

If you are paying for a hep A vaccine, for example for travel, your vaccinator will discuss options with you.

Information about Havrix Medsafe (PDF 44KB) (external link)

Side effects and reactions

Like most medicines, vaccines can sometimes cause reactions. These are usually mild, and not everyone will get them.

Mild reactions are normal and shows that your immune system is responding to the vaccine.

If you are going to have any reactions, they normally happen in the first few days after getting vaccinated. The vaccine itself is gone from your body within a few hours or days.

The most common reaction to an immunisation includes:

  • a slight fever
  • pain or swelling where the needle went in.

Common reactions

Common reactions of the hep A vaccine include:

  • nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite
  • headache
  • tiredness.

Allergic reactions

Serious allergic reactions are extremely rare. Only about 1 in 1 million people will experience this.

Your vaccinator is well-trained and knows what to look for and can treat an allergic reaction quickly if it happens.

Serious allergic reactions normally happen within the first few minutes of vaccination, this is why you need to wait for up to 20 minutes after immunisation.

More information

Find more information about common side effects, what to look for and how to report side effects.

Vaccine side effects, reactions and safety (external link)

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