Hepatitis A can be transmitted by consuming food or beverages handled by infected persons. As an ongoing effort to combat the Hepatitis A outbreak, food service workers have been identified as a priority because of the potential for spreading illness to the community.
“I strongly urge all residents, especially food handlers, to get the Hepatitis A vaccine and to wash hands thoroughly,” said Leigh-Anne Stafford, health officer for Oakland County. “Sick food workers are encouraged to stay home from work, seek medical attention, and report their illness to their employer.”
Vaccination clinics will be open specifically for food workers on the following dates:
- Tuesday, Dec. 12, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. at North Oakland Health Center, 1200 N. Telegraph Rd., Building 34E, in Pontiac
- Wednesday, Dec. 13, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. at South Oakland Health Center, 27725 Greenfield Rd., in Southfield
The vaccine is also available during regular Health Division clinic hours: Noon – 8pm Monday, 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. Tuesday – Friday, and through some healthcare providers and pharmacies. Call ahead to ensure your healthcare provider or pharmacy has the vaccine available.
The Hepatitis A vaccine consists of two doses, given six months apart, and costs $36 per adult dose. While many people can get the vaccination from their healthcare provider or local pharmacy, those without insurance or who cannot get it elsewhere can get vaccinated through the Health Division.
“Managers of food establishments need to encourage their staff to get vaccinated. Failure to take precautionary and preventive measures, such as vaccination, could lead to devastating impacts to businesses in the event of an outbreak,” Stafford said.
To reduce the risk of Hepatitis A:
- Get the Hepatitis A vaccine.
- Wash hands frequently, especially after using the bathroom, changing diapers, and before preparing and eating food. Rub hands vigorously with soap and warm running water for at least 20 seconds.
- Clean and disinfect all surface areas, especially while someone in the household or workplace has symptoms. Particular care needs to be taken with areas such as toilets, sinks, trashcans, door knobs, and faucet handles.
- Do not prepare food if you have symptoms and refrain from food preparation for at least three days after symptoms have ended, or two weeks after onset of clinical symptoms, whichever is longer.
- Exclude ill food service workers from the establishment immediately until clearance is given from Oakland County Health Division.
Hepatitis A is an infection of the liver caused by a virus. Symptoms of Hepatitis A may include sudden abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea, headache, dark urine, and/or vomiting often followed by yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice). Symptoms may appear from 14-50 days after exposure, but average about one month. In rare cases, those with a pre-existing severe illness or a compromised immune system can progress to liver failure. Individuals are advised to contact their doctor if they have a sudden onset of any symptoms.
The Health Division participates in the Vaccines for Children (VFC) Program which offers vaccines at no cost for eligible children up to 18-years-old. No one will be denied access to services due to inability to pay. A discounted/sliding fee schedule is available. Payment options include cash and credit card. Credit card fees apply. Please bring all insurance cards to the clinic. Identification is required for all clinic services.
For more information about Hepatitis A, visit www.oakgov.com/health or call Nurse on Call at 800-848-5533, Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. For up-to-date public health information, follow @publichealthOC on Facebook and Twitter.