Hepatitis A, B, and C are severe diseases of the liver that can cause permanent damage, cancer or death. Usually administered to newborns and children, there are currently two separate vaccines available to protect against the hepatitis A virus (HAV) and the hepatitis B virus (HBV). Unfortunately, these vaccines have also been associated with increased risks of developing a life-threatening allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis.
Do I have a hepatitis lawsuit? If you or a loved one has suffered from an adverse side effect after receiving a hepatitis vaccine, you should contact us immediately. You may be entitled to compensation for your injuries or loss and we can help.
Why You Should Choose Schmidt & Clark, LLP – Hepatitis vaccine injury claims are not like traditional personal injury or product liability claims. Regardless of where you are located in America, your claim must be filed in the Federal Vaccine Court, which is located in Washington, DC and your lawyer must obtain a special license to be admitted into such court. Michael E. Schmidt, Managing Partner of our law firm is one of only a number of lawyers in the United States who are licensed to practice in the complex Vaccine Court system. Our lawyers can help you to obtain the highest possible award for your vaccine injury through the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program and accept vaccine, vaccination, and immunization side effect lawsuits in all 50 states. Contact us today to learn more about your legal rights.
Hepatitis: An Overview
The term “hepatitis” describes an inflammation of the liver and is also the name for a family of viral infections known as hepatitis A, B and C.
Even though they can cause similar symptoms, hepatitis A, B and C are all caused by three different viruses, have different modes of transmission, and can affect the liver differently. It is also possible for people to contract more than one type of hepatitis during their lives.
Hepatitis A is characterized by an acute infection, which does not become chronic. Both hepatitis B and hepatitis C also begin as acute infections, but as the virus can remain in the body, they may result in chronic disease or liver problems.
While hepatitis A is spread through the ingestion of contaminated food or fecal matter, hepatitis B is spread when infected blood, semen or other body fluid enters the body of a person who is not infected. Hepatitis B may be spread through sex and may be extremely dangerous, as hepatitis B is 50-100 times more infectious than HIV.
Currently there are separate vaccines available to prevent hepatitis A (HAV) and B (HBV) — there is not one to prevent hepatitis C.
Vaccination is intended to give long-term protection against hepatitis, possibly lifelong. Unfortunately, the vaccines have also been associated with a serious side effect known as anaphylaxis, or a life-threatening allergic reaction.
Hepatitis Vaccine Side Effects
Like most vaccinations, the hepatitis vaccines may cause mild side effects that may include:
- Soreness at the injection site
- Loss of appetite
However, severe side effects are also associated with the hepatitis shots. These serious side effects include:
- Life-threatening allergic reaction
Additionally, one study published in the Oct. 8, 2000 issue of Neurology, suggests a relationship between the hepatitis B vaccine and multiple sclerosis, a disease of the central nervous system. While other studies have not found this same relationship, the exact relationship between the vaccine and the disease remains unknown.
If you, your child or someone you know received the hepatitis A or B vaccines and developed a severe side effect, such as a life-threatening allergic reaction, you may be entitled to monetary compensation for your pain and suffering under the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. You may want to consider contacting an attorney with Schmidt & Clark, LLP to discuss the potential for your claim.
What is Hepatitis A?
Hepatitis A is a liver disease caused by the hepatitis A virus (HAV), which can last a few weeks to a few months. It does not lead to chronic infection, unlike hepatitis B or C.
It is most often spread through the ingestion of contaminated fecal matter, even in microscopic amounts. It may also be spread by swallowing contaminated food or water.
While a person may have hepatitis A and never experience any symptoms, some possible symptoms may appear anywhere between 2 to 6 weeks after exposure. Symptoms include jaundice, fatigue, stomach ache, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dark urine, clay-colored bowel movements, or joint pain.
Most people fully recover from symptoms; however, hepatitis A can cause liver failure or death in rare cases, especially in persons 50 years of age or older and in persons with other liver diseases.
What is Hepatitis B?
Hepatitis B is a contagious liver disease that can range in severity from a mild illness to a serious, lifelong illness. It results from an infection from the hepatitis B virus (HBV).
Usually, a mild illness will occur within the first 6 months after someone is exposed to the hepatitis B virus. However, chronic hepatitis B virus infection occurs when the virus remains in the body. Chronic hepatitis B may cause liver damage (cirrhosis), liver failure, liver cancer or even death.
The younger a person is when they are initially infected by the hepatitis B virus, the greater the chance of developing chronic hepatitis B. In fact, 90 percent of infected infants will develop chronic infection. This risk goes down as a child ages, with about 25-50 percent of children between ages 1-5 developing chronic hepatitis and 6-10 percent of children over 5 years of age developing the disease.
Symptoms of acute hepatitis B include fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dark urine, clay-colored bowel movements, joint pain and jaundice.
Who Should Get The Hepatitis Vaccination?
The CDC recommends the following people aged 1 year or older should receive the hepatitis A vaccine:
- All children at age 1
- Anyone who lives in a community with a high rate of hepatitis A
- Any men who have sexual contact with other men
- Anyone using illegal drugs, whether injected or not
- Anyone who works or travels to countries with high rates of hepatitis A
- Anyone who has long-term liver disease
- Anyone with a clotting-factor disorders, such as hemophilia
- Anyone who works with HAV-infected animals or work with HAV for research
The following populations should consider receiving the hepatitis B vaccine:
- All infants
- All children and adolescents younger than 19 years of age who have not been vaccinated
- People whose sex partners have hepatitis B
- Sexually active persons who are not in a long-term, mutually monogamous relationship
- Persons seeking evaluation or treatment for a STD
- People under 60 years of age with diabetes
- Men who have sexual contact with other men
- People who share needles, syringes, or other drug-injection equipment
- People who have close household contact with someone infected with hepatitis B
- Healthcare and public safety workers at risk for exposure to blood
- People with end-state renal disease
- Residents and staff of facilities of developmentally disabled persons
- Travelers to areas of moderate or high rates of hepatitis B
- People with chronic liver disease
- People with HIV infection
Who Should Not Get The Hepatitis Vaccination?
The hepatitis A and B vaccines are not intended for everyone. People who should not receive a hepatitis vaccine include:
- Anyone who had a serious allergic reaction to a prior dose of the hepatitis A or B vaccine
- Anyone who is allergic to any part of the vaccines
- Anyone who is allergic to latex, alum or 2-phenoxyethanol should not receive the hepatitis A vaccine
- Anyone who is allergic to yeast should not receive the hepatitis B vaccine
Additionally, anyone who is moderately or severely ill should wait until they recover to get the vaccine.
Hepatitis Vaccination Schedule
The hepatitis A vaccine is recommended for all children at age 1 year (between 12 months and 23 months of age). It is given as 2 shots, 6 months apart.
The hepatitis B vaccine is usually given as 3-4 shots over a 6-month period. The series is usually administered following this timeline:
- First dose at birth
- Second dose at 1-2 months of age
- Third dose at 6-18 months of age
Some babies may get 4 doses if a “combination” vaccine containing hepatitis B is used.
Adults getting the hepatitis B vaccine should get 3 doses — with the second dose given 4 weeks after the first and the third dose 5 months after the second.
A combined hepatitis A and B vaccine is also available and is given as three separate doses over a 6-month period to any persons 18 years of age or older.
Do I Have a Hepatitis Vaccine Lawsuit?
Again, our lawyers can help you to obtain the highest possible award for your vaccine injury through the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program and accept vaccine, vaccination, and immunization side effect lawsuits in all 50 states.
If you or a loved one has suffered from an adverse side effect after receiving a hepatitis vaccine, you should contact us immediately. You may be entitled to compensation for your injuries or loss and we can help.