TWINRIX is a combination vaccine used to prevent hepatitis A and hepatitis B infection. The vaccine works by causing the body to produce its own protection (antibodies) against these diseases.
Hepatitis A and hepatitis B are infectious diseases, which cause the liver to become inflamed (swollen). These diseases are caused by viruses - hepatitis A and hepatitis B viruses.
Symptoms of hepatitis A usually begin 3 to 6 weeks after coming into contact with the virus. These consist of nausea (feeling sick), fever, aches and pains. After a few days the skin and/or the whites of the eyes may become yellowish (jaundice). The severity and type of symptoms can vary. Hepatitis A is often milder in young children. Most people recover completely but the illness is usually severe enough to keep adults off work for about a month.
The hepatitis A virus can be passed from person to person in food and drink, or by swimming in water contaminated by sewage. Hepatitis A is very common in many parts of the world and the risk of infection is greatest in those areas where hygiene and sanitation are poor. Vaccination is recommended for travellers to all developing countries, including people in the armed forces.
Hepatitis A occurs in Australia, but is not common. Some groups of people however are at a higher risk of exposure to the disease. Vaccination is recommended for these people:
- nursing staff and healthcare workers in contact with patients in childrens wards, infectious diseases wards, emergency rooms and intensive care units
- day-care centre staff particularly where children have not been toilet trained
- staff and residents of homes for the intellectually disabled
- sewerage workers
- food handlers
- homosexual men
- people in contact with an infected person
- people with chronic liver disease or liver transplants, or people who receive certain blood products.