Combination Vaccine for Hepatitis A and B
British Columbia Specific Information
Hepatitis B and hepatitis A are viruses that attack the liver. The combination hepatitis A and B vaccine provides immunity for at least 10 years and likely for a lifetime when completing the full series. There are currently no recommendations for a healthy person to receive boosters of this combination vaccine if they have completed the full series.
If you would also like information on hepatitis A or B and the individual vaccines, see HealthLinkBC File #33 Hepatitis A Vaccine, HealthLinkBC File #25a Hepatitis B Vaccine, HealthLinkBC File #25c Hepatitis B Infant Vaccine, and visit Immunize BC.
You may also call 8-1-1 to speak to a registered nurse or pharmacist. Our nurses are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week; and our pharmacists are available every night from 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 a.m.
|Generic Name||Brand Name|
|hepatitis A inactivated and hepatitis B recombinant vaccine||Twinrix|
How It Works
Twinrix is a vaccine that provides active immunity against both the hepatitis A and hepatitis B viruses. It is given in a series of 3 injections on the same schedule as the hepatitis B vaccine: an initial dose followed by doses at 1 month and 6 months. It can also be given in 4 doses, with the initial dose followed by doses at 7 days, 21 to 30 days, and 12 months.
Why It Is Used
This combination vaccine can prevent both hepatitis A virus (HAV) and hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection with only one series of injections. People get the vaccines together rather than separately. The Public Health Agency of Canada has approved its use only for people who are at risk for infection with HAV and HBV. These include people who:
- Will travel to areas with moderate to high rates of HAV and HBV. These include Africa, the Caribbean, Central America, South America, Mexico, South and Southeast Asia, the Middle East, Eastern Europe, Southern Europe, and the former Soviet Union.footnote 1
- Have long-term (chronic) liver disease.
- Use illegal injectable drugs.
- Have anal contact with a sex partner.
- Work in occupations that expose them to viruses, such as some lab workers, people who provide emergency medical assistance, and daycare providers.
- Have clotting factor disorders and receive blood products.
How Well It Works
In clinical trials, 1 month after the last dose, 100% of people were immune to hepatitis A, while 99.7% were immune to hepatitis B.footnote 2 But in practice, immunity may not approach these levels. Hepatitis B vaccine provides immunity for 95% to 97% of people.
Immunity to the hepatitis B virus is thought to be lifelong. The hepatitis A vaccine is effective for at least 25 years in adults and 14 years in children.footnote 3
All medicines have side effects. But many people don't feel the side effects, or they are able to deal with them. Ask your pharmacist about the side effects of each medicine you take. Side effects are also listed in the information that comes with your medicine.
Here are some important things to think about:
- Usually the benefits of the medicine are more important than any minor side effects.
- Side effects may go away after you take the medicine for a while.
- If side effects still bother you and you wonder if you should keep taking the medicine, call your doctor. He or she may be able to lower your dose or change your medicine. Do not suddenly quit taking your medicine unless your doctor tells you to.
Call 911 or other emergency services right away if you have:
- Trouble breathing.
- Swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.
Call your doctor if you have:
Common side effects of the Twinrix vaccine include:
- Soreness at the injection site.
See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)
What To Think About
Twinrix should not be given to people who are allergic to the contents of the vaccine.
To get the best protection before travel, you need 2 doses of Twinrix before departure. But if you can get only 1 dose, consider getting just the hepatitis A vaccine instead of 1 shot of combination vaccine. It may provide better protection against hepatitis A.
Medicine is one of the many tools your doctor has to treat a health problem. Taking medicine as your doctor suggests will improve your health and may prevent future problems. If you don't take your medicines properly, you may be putting your health (and perhaps your life) at risk.
There are many reasons why people have trouble taking their medicine. But in most cases, there is something you can do. For suggestions on how to work around common problems, see the topic Taking Medicines as Prescribed.
Advice for women
If you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or planning to get pregnant, do not use any medicines unless your doctor tells you to. Some medicines can harm your baby. This includes prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, herbs, and supplements. And make sure that all your doctors know that you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or planning to get pregnant.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
- Sharapov UM, Teshale EH (2014). Infectious diseases related to travel: Hepatitis A. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/yellowbook/2014/chapter-3-infectious-diseases-related-to-travel/hepatitis-a. Accessed December 24, 2014.
- Twinrix: A combination hepatitis A and B vaccine (2001). Medical Letter on Drugs and Therapeutics, 43(1110): 67–68.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2013). Hepatitis A FAQs for health professionals. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/HAV/HAVfaq. Accessed December 24, 2014.
Current as of: March 18, 2015
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