What Havrix is used for

Havrix is a vaccine used to prevent hepatitis A infection. The vaccine works by causing the body to produce its own protection (antibodies) against this disease.

Hepatitis A is an infectious disease, which can affect the liver. This disease is caused by the hepatitis A virus.

The hepatitis A virus can be passed from person to person in food and drink, or by swimming in water contaminated by sewage. Symptoms of hepatitis A begin 3 to 6 weeks after coming into contact with the virus. These consist of nausea (feeling sick), fever and aches and pains. After a few days the whites of eyes and skin may become yellowish (jaundice). The severity and type of symptoms can vary. Young children may not develop jaundice. Most people recover completely but the illness is usually severe enough to keep people off work for about a month.

Hepatitis A is very common in many parts of the world, and the risk of infection is greatest in those areas where hygiene and sanitation are poor. Such areas include Asia, India, Africa, Central and South America, the Pacific Islands, the Middle East, and the Mediterranean basin. Havrix is recommended for all travellers to these areas, including people in the armed forces.

Hepatitis A occurs in New Zealand, but is not common. Some groups of people however, are at risk of exposure to the disease and should be vaccinated.

Vaccination is recommended for these people:

  • healthcare workers
  • day-care centre staff
  • staff and residents of homes for the intellectually disabled
  • sewage workers
  • food handlers
  • abusers of injectable drugs
  • homosexual men
  • people in contact with an infected person
  • people with some types of liver or blood disorders.
  • people in the armed forces
  • travellers

There is no specific treatment for hepatitis A. Therefore vaccination is the best way to protect against infection in the longer term.

Immunoglobulin protects you from hepatitis A straight away but is only effective for a short time (8-12 weeks).

Havrix will not protect against hepatitis caused by other agents or viruses (such as hepatitis B, hepatitis C or hepatitis E). If a person if already infected with the hepatitis A virus at the time of vaccination, Havrix may not prevent the disease in these people.

Consumer Medicine Information on Havrix.

Havrix® (Inactivated Hepatitis A virus vaccine) is available as Havrix 1440 (1440 units in 1.0mL) and as Havrix Junior (720 units in 0.5mL). Havrix is a private-purchase prescription medicine for the prevention of Hepatitis A virus infection. You will need to pay for this medicine. Do not have a Havrix vaccination if: you have an allergy to any component of the vaccine.  Tell your doctor if: you have been suffering from a fever, if you are having dialysis, are pregnant or have an impaired immune system. Common side effects: irritability, drowsiness, headache, fever, nausea, fatigue, diarrhoea, vomiting, loss of appetite, and local reactions such as redness, pain, and swelling at the injection site. If symptoms continue or you have side effects, see your doctor, pharmacist or health professional.  Additional Consumer Medicine Information for Havrix is available at www.medsafe.govt.nz.  Normal doctor's office visit fees apply.  Ask your doctor or travel medicine specialist if Havrix is right for you.

Havrix and Havrix Junior are trade marks of the GlaxoSmithKline group of companies. Marketed by GlaxoSmithKline NZ Limited, Auckland. TAPS DA89KH/08MY/066

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