This combination vaccine is used to help prevent infection from the hepatitis A and B viruses. Hepatitis A infection can be mild with no symptoms or a severe illness that can rarely cause liver failure and death. Hepatitis B infection can cause serious problems including liver failure, persistent hepatitis B infection, cirrhosis, and liver cancer. Preventing infection with these viruses can prevent these problems.
Hepatitis A/hepatitis B combination vaccine is made from whole, killed hepatitis A virus and a genetically engineered (man-made in the laboratory) piece of hepatitis B virus. It does not contain live virus, so you can not get hepatitis from the vaccine. This vaccine works by helping the body produce immunity (through antibody production) that will prevent you from getting infection from hepatitis A and hepatitis B. This combination vaccine does not protect you from other virus infections (such as HIV virus which causes AIDS, hepatitis C/ hepatitis E, HPV virus which causes genital warts and other problems).
The vaccine is recommended for people at an increased risk of getting these infections. Those at an increased risk include health care personnel, laboratory workers who handle blood and patient specimens, police, fire and emergency medical personnel who give first aid treatment, hemophiliacs, dialysis patients, people who live with or spend much time with people with persistent hepatitis B or active hepatitis A infections, people with multiple sex partners, men who have sex with men, sex workers, injection drug abusers, and people traveling to high-risk areas.