Hepatitis A is an infection of the liver caused by the Hepatitis A virus. It is caught through contaminated food and water or through person-to-person contact if personal hygiene is poor. It causes a range of issues including jaundice, nausea, fatigue and fever and can last from a few weeks to a few months. There is no cure for Hepatitis A so treatment is usually supportive.
A single injection of the vaccine should be given two weeks before you leave, although it can be given up to the day of your departure if necessary. This will protect you against Hepatitis A for about a year. A booster dose, given 6–12 months after the first dose, will protect you for at least 20 years. Each dose of Hepatitis A vaccine costs £40.
Hepatitis B is a serious disease which affects the functioning of the liver. It can go on to become a life-long chronic condition with serious effects, including liver failure, scarring of the liver and liver cancer. There are currently more than 2 billion people in the world that have been infected by Hepatitis B, which is one in every three people in the planet. It is spread through contact with infected blood or body fluids, such as through sexual intercourse or sharing needles.
Several different vaccines are available for Hepatitis B. Most require a course of three doses which are given rapidly over a one month course or given over a standard six months course. Each dose of Hepatitis B vaccine cost £35.
Once you have completed the course, you should be protected against Hepatitis B for life. Healthcare workers are advised to have a booster dose after five years.