Dear Dr. Roach: Last July, I ate at a beach restaurant in Florida and shortly afterward was advised to get a hepatitis A shot, which I did. They also said to get the second shot in January 2020. Now I'm hearing that there may be complications with the second shot causing health problems and also that health insurance and/or Medicare won't pay for it. I have scheduled an appointment to receive the second shot at the end of January through my county health department.

Dear Dr. Roach: Last July, I ate at a beach restaurant in Florida and shortly afterward was advised to get a hepatitis A shot, which I did. They also said to get the second shot in January 2020. Now I'm hearing that there may be complications with the second shot causing health problems and also that health insurance and/or Medicare won't pay for it. I have scheduled an appointment to receive the second shot at the end of January through my county health department.


Are these just scare tactics, or do you believe that the second shot is necessary? The health department said that since I didn't pay for the first shot, I will not be charged for the second one, so that's good. — G.B.


Answer: Florida is experiencing a large outbreak of hepatitis A, which causes an acute illness. It is occasionally severe but always unpleasant. Fortunately, hepatitis A does not have a chronic form the way hepatitis B and C do. Hepatitis A is spread by contaminated food and water. There were numerous outbreaks reported through restaurants, not just in Florida, but also in Kentucky, Ohio, Tennessee and other states.


The hepatitis A vaccine is recommended for people who might have been exposed. The first dose should be given as soon as possible after exposure, and the second dose six to 12 months later.


I was not able to find any indication that there have been health problems related to the second dose, and I urge you to complete the two-dose series to give you long-lasting protection for the future.


Readers may email questions to ToYourGoodHealth@med.cornell.edu or send mail to 628 Virginia Drive, Orlando, FL 32803.