HEPA General Info

Hepatitis A


  • Hepatitis A is a highly contagious liver infection caused by the hepatitis A virus. It can range from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a severe illness lasting several months. Although rare, hepatitis A can cause death in some people. Hepatitis A usually spreads when a person unknowingly ingests the virus from objects, food, or drinks contaminated by small, undetected amounts of stool from an infected person.
  • Backgound: More than half of states across the country have reported outbreaks of hepatitis A. Since first identified in 2016, more than 27,000 cases with over 60% hospitalizations and at least 270 deaths have been reported. Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) managed a small cluster of cases in late 2017 and reported on an increase in activity among Men who have sex with men (MSM) [see health alerts] and continues to monitor reports of hepatitis A closely given the rapid growth of outbreaks across the country (links to updated case counts).  Timely reporting and continued vaccination of high risk groups is necessary to prevent a hepatitis A outbreak from spreading to Chicago.  One dose of single-antigen hepatitis A vaccine has been shown to control outbreaks of hepatitis A — and provides up to 95% seroprotection in healthy adults.

    Symptoms: Symptoms of hepatitis A include a viral prodrome of fatigue, malaise, fever, muscle aches, followed by nausea, vomiting, diarrhea (more common in children), abdominal pain and hepatitis (elevated serum aminotransferase levels) which can be associated with darkening of urine, pale-colored stools, and yellowing of the skin (jaundice) and/or eyes (scleral icterus). The most common symptom in adults is jaundice (>70%). Transmission occurs by fecal-oral route. Liver failure and death are more likely to occur in persons over the age of 50 years and those with chronic liver disease.

    Prevention: In order to protect Chicago’s highest risk individuals, CDPH is asking all adult healthcare providers to vaccinate the following high risk groups. Pre-vaccination serologic testing is not required to administer hepatitis A vaccine.  Vaccination should not be postponed if history cannot be obtained or records are not available.
    • Homelessness or transient housing
    • MSM
    • Persons who inject drugs or use non-injection drugs
    • History of incarceration
    • Persons with chronic liver disease
    • Travelers
    • Persons with clotting-factor disorders
    • Persons who work with non-human primates
    • Persons who anticipate close personal contact with an international adoptee


  • Have a low threshold to report clinical suspicion for hepatitis A in high risk individuals to CDPH. High risk individuals include persons experiencing homeless or transient housing, men who have sex with men (MSM),  injection or non-injection drug users, and/or individuals with a history of incarceration. 
  • Use this Hepatitis A ER reporting form if you are in the ER and have clinical suspicion for hepatitis A in a high risk individual.
  • In the setting of national outbreaks, vaccinate high risk patients for hepatitis A now.
  • Consider repeating non-reactive (NR) hepatitis A IgM results in one week for clinically consistent cases.



HEPA Information for Vaccinators

If your organization is interested in receiving Hepatitis A vaccine to administer to high risk populations, please email  vaccine@cityofchicago.org or call 312-746-5382 to discuss.

Emergency Department Hepatitis A Vaccination Program FAQ

Standing orders for administering Hepatitis A Vaccine to Adults

Hepatitis A vaccination - information for health care providers 

Hepatitis A Vaccine Information Statement (VIS

Hepatitis A Patient Evaluation and Management for ED and Outpatient Providers

April 2019 CHART newsletter 

Manufacturer’s Vaccine Assistance Programs: The following is provided for adult clients who need help paying for vaccines, is for informational purposes only and is not an endorsement of any certain vaccine brand/manufacturer.

  • Merck Vaccine Patient Assistance Program for uninsured adults 19 years and older. Call 1-800-293-3881 from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. EST, Mon. through Fri. or visit:  the website.
  • GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) Vaccines Access Program which provides adult GSK vaccines to eligible low income patients who do not have third party coverage for vaccines. Call 1-877-VAC-2911 (1-877-822-2911) or visit: https://www.gskforyou.com/vaccines-patient-assistance/.

Illinois HepA Update

For Chicago partners: November 2019 issue of CHART newsletter click here to view document (updated Novemeber 1, 2019).

For Chicago partners: July 2019 issue of CHART newsletter click here to view document (updated July 25, 2019)

For Chicago partners: April 2019 issue of CHART newsletter click here to view document (updated April 29, 2019).

June 18, 2019 IDPH Hepatitis A UpdateClick here for more information.

March 26, 2019 Update:  Return of Outbreak-Associated Hepatitis A virus (HAV) to Chicago: New risk for spread since end of 2017-2018 wave, renewed call for cases.  Click here for more information.

December 13, 2018 Hepatitis A update:  Illinois declares Hep A outbreak click here for more information.


HepA Information for Providers and Patients

Fact Sheets

CDC General Hepatitis A (English)

CDPH General Hepatitis A (English) (Spanish)

Hepatitis A for Volunteers with direct contact with high-risk groups (English)

Hepatitis A for Food Handlers (English)

Hepatitis A Disinfection Tip Sheet (English)

CDC Viral Hepatitis Information for Gay and Bisexual Men (English)



Why Should You Care About Hepatitis A? - English
Porque Debe Importarle La Hepatitis A? - Spanish

TouchCard (English and Spanish)

TouchCard - (Side A)   (Side B)

HepA Contact Us

Clinical Contact

For Clinical questions please contact:

The CDPH Disease Reporting Number



Report all cases of hepatitis A to the Chicago Department of Public Health

Contact Communicable Disease Hepatitis Surveillance at (phone) 312-743-9000, (fax) 312-746-6388.


 If you have any hepatitis A vaccine expiring soon that you do not plan to use,

please contact ChicagoVFC@cityofchicago.org.

If your organization is interested in receiving Hepatitis A vaccine to administer to high risk populations, please email vaccine@cityofchicago.org or call 312-746-5382 to discuss.

If your organization has the ability and would like to distribute hygiene kits to homeless individuals, please call Donovan Robinson at 312-746-6286.