Each year, approximately 70,000 to 140,000 people in the United States are infected with the hepatitis A virus (HAV) a serious, yet fairly common liver disease. HAV is highly contagious and is usually transmitted by the fecal-oral route by either person-to-person contact or ingestion of contaminated food, water or milk.
A safe and effective vaccine is available for HAV and people who get the vaccine have protection for years against infection from HAV. In 1995, the estimated annual cost (direct and indirect) of HAV in the United States exceeded $200 million. The cost of the vaccination is much less than the cost of treatment.National Adult Immunization Awareness Week is Oct. 12-18. If you want to learn more about the HAV vaccination, ask your health-care provider. Or contact the National Coalition for Adult Immunization, Bethesda, Md. Together, we can achieve the U.S. Public Health Service's Healthy People 2000 goal of immunizing at least 60 percent of America's adult population against vaccine-preventable diseases.