WHEELING, WV – 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.

The health department will hold special West Virginia first responder Hepatitis A vaccination clinics on July 11, 18 and 25 from 9:00-11:00am and 1:00-3:00pm at the health department, first floor of the City/County Building.  The health department will announce additional vaccination clinics as vaccine and resources are secured.

Marshall County Health Department will hold first responder Hepatitis A vaccination clinics on July 16, 20 and 23 from 9:00-11:00am and 1:00-4:00pm at the health department, located at 513 6th Street Moundsville.

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.

Similar vaccination clinics will be held by other county health departments across West Virginia.  The Hepatitis A vaccine is being provided by the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Services for the sole purpose of vaccinating first responders.

Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver and is associated with poor sanitation and hygiene and is transmitted through ingestion of contaminated food and drink or through direct contact with an infectious person.

Hepatitis A is a serious, highly contagious liver disease that can cause symptoms including fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dark urine, clay-colored stools, joint pain, intense itching and jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes.).

Anyone can get hepatitis A, but you are at-risk if you:

  • Are homeless and/or use illicit drugs
  • Live with someone who has hepatitis A
  • Use recreational drugs
  • Are a man who has sex with men
  • Have sexual contact with someone who has hepatitis
  • Travel or live in countries where hepatitis A is common

Hepatitis A can be spread by:

  • Touching objects or eating food that someone with hepatitis A infection has handled
  • Having sex with someone who has a hepatitis A infection
  • Consuming food or drinks that are contaminated by the virus
  • Sharing needles, pipes or other items when using drugs
  • Forgetting to wash your hands after cleaning up the stool or changing the diaper of an infected person

The best way to prevent hepatitis A is by getting vaccinated

  • The hepatitis A vaccine is given as 2 shots, 6 months apart
  • The vaccine is safe and effective
  • Even a single dose is highly effective in adults
  • If you cannot remember if you got the hepatitis A vaccine, there is no harm in getting it again
  • The Hepatitis A vaccine or immune globulin is only effective within two weeks of exposure to the virus.

In addition to getting the vaccine, good hand hygiene is recommended to avoid getting Hepatitis A. It is recommended that individuals wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20-30 seconds.

For more information on Hepatitis, participation in the vaccination clinics and the Wheeling-Ohio County Health Department call (304) 234-3682.