With an outbreak of Hepatitis A in parts of the United States, including West Virginia, the Wheeling-Ohio County Health Department is offering Hepatitis A vaccinations to West Virginia First Responders and High Risk Individuals. The health department will hold Hepatitis A vaccination clinics on December 5, 12, 19, 26 from 9:00-11:00am and 1:00-3:00pm at the health department, first floor of the City/County Building.
Area First Responders need to bring proof of employment and identification. There is no charge for the vaccination and participants do not need to bring insurance information. Eligible participants include any West Virginia EMS, Fire and Law Enforcement personnel, both volunteer and paid professional staff are welcome. The Hepatitis A vaccine is being provided by the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (WVDHHR) for the sole purpose of vaccinating first responders.
Individuals who are consider High Risk, aged 19 years and older and a West Virginia resident can also receive Hepatitis A vaccination. The vaccine is being provided by the WVDHHR to assist in vaccination efforts across the state. Individuals who are at High Risk will be briefly screened by health department staff and those that qualify can receive the vaccine at no cost. High-risk groups include:
- Persons who use injection or non-injection illicit drugs
- Men who have sex with men
- Persons who are homeless or in transient living situations
- Persons who have been incarcerated
- Persons with acute or chronic liver disease, including those with hepatitis B virus and/or hepatitis C virus
- Persons exposed or contact with someone with Hepatitis A
- Household contact with someone who uses illicit drugs or homeless
- Persons who provide direct services with people who are homeless or use illicit drugs
- Persons with ongoing exposure to a group listed above
Hepatitis A is a viral infection of the liver that can cause loss of appetite, nausea, tiredness, fever, stomach pain, brown colored urine, and light-colored stools. Yellowing of the skin or eyes may also appear.
Hepatitis A usually spreads when a person unknowingly ingests the virus from objects, food, or drinks contaminated by small, undetected amounts of stool from an infected person. The virus spreads when an infected person does not wash his/her hands adequately after using the toilet, changing diapers, or engages in behaviors that increase risk of infection.
The best means of prevention is through vaccination and proper hand washing. This includes using soap and hot water, not hand sanitizer, after using the restroom and prior to handling food. Proper hand washing is the most important factor in preventing the spread of many diseases, particularly Hepatitis A.
The health department will continue to offer Hepatitis A vaccinations during the Project HOPE, our public health street medicine outreach program, weekly clinical rounds. For the general population who would like to get vaccinated for Hepatitis A, if you have insurance, you can see your healthcare provider or many local pharmacies (e.g. Rite Aid, CVS, Walmart, etc.) carry the vaccine.
For more information on Hepatitis, to schedule a vaccination appointment, participation in the vaccination clinics and the Wheeling-Ohio County Health Department call (304) 234-3682.