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hepatitis A vaccinations for everyone in counties affected by outbreak

Kentucky health department recommends hepatitis A vaccinations for everyone in counties affected by an outbreak

The Kentucky Department for Public Health is urging everyone in counties affected by the recent hepatitis A outbreak to receive vaccinations for the disease.

That recommendation includes everyone living in Jefferson, Bullitt, Hardin, Greenup, Carter and Boyd Counties, according to a news release.

To date, 311 cases of the disease have been reported in the state. Of that number, 214 were in the Jefferson County/Louisville area. One person has died as a result of the disease.

“Hepatitis A is a vaccine-preventable illness,” said Dr. Jeffrey Howard, acting commissioner of the Department of Public Health, in a statement. “DPH recommends all children, ages 1 year through 18, receive the hepatitis A vaccine as well as adults who want to prevent themselves from an acute hepatitis A infection. In these counties with local transmission of the hepatitis A virus, we recommend everyone is vaccinated per guidelines to help stop this outbreak.”

For adults, the vaccine is typically given in two doses: an initial vaccination followed by another six months later.

Dr. Paul Schulz, an infectious disease specialist and system epidemiologist for Norton Healthcare, said the first vaccine will provide a good boost of immunity on its own. And he said now is a good time to start the vaccine series as the city prepares for thousands of visitors for the Kentucky Derby.

“If there are any concerns, getting vaccinated right now would be best so you have a couple weeks for that vaccine to take effect and get the protection in place,” Schulz said.

Since 2006, the CDC has recommended children receive the hepatitis A vaccine series. All Kentucky students in kindergarten through 12th grade will be required to have the two doses before the next school year starts.

Schulz said most adults have never been vaccinated because it was never a requirement for them during their childhoods. So even if an adult is not in one of the main risk groups, Schulz said it could be a good idea to get the vaccine to protect themselves and others.

“You never know who it is going to be that will be harmed,” he said. “So that’s why we recommend that people get vaccinated rather than just taking their chances.”

Those considered at high-risk of contracting hepatitis A include:

1.those who travel to countries where hepatitis A is common
2.men who have sex with other men
3.those who use illegal drugs
4.those who are homeless
5.those who have a chronic liver disease such as hepatitis B or hepatitis C
6.those who are being treated with clotting-factor concentrates
7.those who work with hepatitis A-infected animals, people, or laboratory work
8.those who expect to have close personal contact with an international adoptee from a country where hepatitis A is common.

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