In this installment of "Ask a Medical Expert," Dr. Rhonique Shields-Harris, the medical director of the Children's Health Center at THEARC in Anacostia, Md., answers a question from a reader whose friend has been infected with the hepatitis A virus.
Dear Dr. Harris:
I have a friend that has hepatitis A. Can you tell me what that is and if I should get a shot for it?
Hepatitis A is a serious liver disease caused by the Hepatitis A virus. The infection can cause flu-like illness with significant gastrointestinal symptoms (stomach pain, vomiting and diarrhea). It can be spread by close personal contact and eating and drinking food/water infected with the virus. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that children and adolescents receive the hepatitis A vaccine as follows:
There is a list of other persons for whom the vaccine is recommended. But, if your child falls in any of the above categories for children, it is recommended that they get the vaccine. The vaccine is not licensed for children younger than 12 months of age. The vaccine is given in two doses (6 months apart).
For more information on the Hepatitis A vaccine, you can go to www.cdc.gov to learn more about it.
This Month’s Featured Medical Expert, Dr. Rhonique Shields-Harris, is the medical director of the Children's Health Center at THEARC in Anacostia, Md. She is also the medical director of Children's Mobile Health Services, which includes a mobile medical unit and mobile dental unit. Harris received her medical degree from the University of Maryland and did her residency at Georgetown University Medical Center. She specializes in children's health, but is experienced in general medicine, as well.
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