Hepatitis A is a type of viral infection that primarily affects the liver. Unlike other forms of the Hepatitis virus, Hepatitis A is primarily spread through food and beverages that contain infected materials, often fecal matter. This may occur when someone neglects to wash his or her hands after using the restroom and then prepares food for others. Symptoms of Hepatitis A can range from mild to severe, but in most cases, the condition will come with little impact. There are certain groups that are more prone to severe symptoms from Hepatitis A, including older adults, children, those with kidney disease or those who are already suffering from a liver disorder.
Unfortunately, large groups of people can be infected in a short period of time when a Hepatitis infection breaks out in places like restaurants, but the good news is that you can be vaccinated against hepatitis A to mitigate the damage caused by the disease by blocking its ability to infect. This vaccine is given as an injection and is considered a common vaccine that is given to children, but un-vaccinated adults can benefit from it as well.
Does Medicare Cover the Hepatitis A Vaccine?
Medicare benefits cover vaccinations when they are ordered by medical professionals to prevent diseases, so in most cases, Original Medicare insurance will cover the cost of the Hepatitis A vaccine. The vaccination typically takes place in a clinic, but the vaccine itself is covered by Medicare benefits under Part D, the prescription drug benefit. This differs from Hepatitis B vaccination coverage in that vaccinations for hepatitis B usually take place in multiple sessions, are covered by Medicare Part B and are only available to select Medicare recipients who are at a greater risk of exposure to the disease. There is no vaccination available for Hepatitis C.
There may be an exception to the above, however, in cases where the Hepatitis A vaccine is administered while Medicare recipients are staying in a hospital or skilled nursing facility. These situations would likely fall under Medicare coverage as outlined in Part A. Some parts of the vaccination may also fall under Part B in terms of the actual administration of the vaccine since Part B covers benefits for outpatient treatment in doctor’s offices and clinics.
Protecting Yourself Against Hepatitis A
As mentioned, Hepatitis A is usually spread through infected food and beverages, so it would be a good idea to know where your food is coming from and the condition of the preparation area where the food is being handled. You can take a look at the health score of any restaurant you frequent, and most municipalities and county health inspection departments post details about scores for the public to review. This information can allow you to see if any violations have taken place and what the violations pertain to in relation to food safety.
It would also be a good idea to wash you hands before and after eating out. This is good practice not only to protect yourself against hepatitis infection, but also to maintain general health and avoid spreading harmful germs if you yourself are sick. You should also make sure to wash your hands after touching things in public places or frequently when visiting or residing in a medical facility due to the potential for germs to be spread through contact with infected persons or items.