Hepatitis A Vaccination Indication Now Includes Homelessness

ACIP Recommends Hepatitis A Vaccine for Homeless for 2019

homeless man and his bag

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has adopted the October 2018 recommendation that all persons aged 1 year and older experiencing homelessness should be routinely immunized against the Hepatitis A virus (HAV). 

On February 14, 2019, the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) Hepatitis Vaccines Work Group announced that it had completed a systematic review of the evidence for administering the HAV vaccine to persons experiencing homelessness. 

This committee said ‘the evidence from published studies showed that the benefits of vaccinating individuals experiencing homelessness were substantial and the costs and risks were lower compared with not vaccinating.’ 

Additionally, the announcement updates previous ACIP recommendations for HepA vaccine that did not include homelessness as an indication for use of HepA vaccine for preexposure protection against HAV infection. 

According to the CDC, Hepatitis A (HepA) vaccines are highly immunogenic, and 95 percent of immunocompetent adults develop protective antibody within 4 weeks of receipt of 1 dose of the vaccine. 

Those completing the HepA vaccine series will have long-term protection against hepatitis A virus infection. 

According to the CDC, as of December 15, 2018, there were 10,582 confirmed hepatitis A cases in the USA. 

The 3 largest groups affected by the ongoing, multi-state, Hepatitis A virus outbreak are intravenous drug users, the homeless, and men who have participated in sexual intercourse with other men. 

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Additionally, food-service workers represent another sizable, at-risk population since their daily responsibilities include directly handling food and drink, said the CDC. 

Moreover, during January 2019, many well-known restaurant chains reported hepatitis A alerts related to infected staff. 

To prevent the spreading of hepatitis, the CDC says there are 2 brands of hepatitis A vaccines available, which are interchangeable. 

Two monovalent hepatitis A vaccines, Vaqta and Havrix, are approved for people older than 1 year of age in a 2-dose series. 

And, Twinrix is a combined hepatitis A and hepatitis B vaccine approved for people older than 18 years of age in the USA.

The CDC Vaccine Price List displays current hepatitis vaccine contract prices and general information. And, hepatitis vaccine discounts can be found here.

Vaccines, like any medicine, can have side effects. You are encouraged to report negative side effects of vaccines to the FDA or CDC.