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Hepatitis A Boosters May Be Unnecessary

Study finds vaccination protects for more than 10 years

FRIDAY, Sept. 26, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- Most people don't need booster shots once they've been vaccinated for hepatitis A, a new British study contends.

A complete course of the vaccination, usually two to three doses, protects against the disease for more than 10 years and perhaps as many as 25 years -- at least among people with healthy immune systems, the researchers say. That makes booster shots unnecessary, they add.

Protection stems from the immune system's long-term memory, the study says, and persists even after protective antibodies can no longer be detected. Results appear in the Sept. 25 issue of The Lancet.

However, whether booster shots can be eliminated in people with immune system problems or for people who initially received only a single dose of the vaccine is not yet known, the study says.

Hepatitis A is a liver disease caused by hepatitis A virus. Symptoms may include fever, tiredness, loss of appetite, nausea, abdominal discomfort, dark urine, and jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes), according to U.S. health officials.

About 1.4 million cases of hepatitis A are reported each year, although experts suspect that 10 times that many people worldwide actually contract the disease. People most susceptible are those living in or traveling to less-developed parts of the world.

More information

Here's where you can learn more about hepatitis A.

SOURCE: The Lancet, news release, Sept. 25, 2003
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