Hepatitis A Vaccination Now Recommended For Ohio First-Responders

Franklin, Butler, and Montgomery counties have reported the most hepatitis A cases in Ohio during the 2018-2019 outbreak

fire truck and man

Columbus and Franklin County, Ohio have officially expanded their list of people "recommended" to receive the hepatitis A vaccine in an effort to reduce the ongoing virus outbreak in 2019. 

The expanded list was published on March 10, 2019, and now includes healthcare workers, homeless caretakers, substance abuse treatment workers and most first responders in Central Ohio. 

First responders can have ‘repeated daily contact with those who are most at-risk to contract hepatitis A,’ Ohio Health Commissioner Joe Mazzola said in a statement. 

Columbus Public Health is hosting 2 vaccination clinics, exclusively for fire, police and emergency medical personnel: on March 13 from 11 a.m - 3 p.m., and the other on March 20 from 3 p.m. - 7 p.m. 

Postexposure prophylaxis (PEP) with a hepatitis A vaccine or immune globulin (IG) effectively prevents infection with hepatitis A virus (HAV) when administered within 2 weeks of exposure. 

The efficacy of IG or vaccine, when administered >2 weeks after exposure, has not been established. 

Since July 2018, Columbus Public Health and Franklin County Public Health have delivered more than 4,000 vaccines in the community, focusing efforts on at-risk populations. 

As of March 11, 2019, the Ohio Department of Health has confirmed:

  • Number of hepatitis A cases: 1,931
  • Illness onset range: 01/05/2018 – 03/03/2019
  • Number of hospitalizations: 1,194 (62%)
  • Number of deaths: 7

The counties of Franklin (294), Butler (286) and Montgomery (212) have reported the most hepatitis A cases during the 2018-2019 outbreak.

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) publishes a website with current state-based, hepatitis A information.   

And, on February 15, 2019, the CDC formally adopted a recommendation that all persons aged 1 year and those experiencing homelessness, should be routinely immunized against HepA. 

Previous CDC recommendations for PEP included HepA vaccine for persons aged 1–40 years and IG for persons outside this age range. If IG was not available for persons aged >40 years, HepA vaccine could be administered. 

Preexposure prophylaxis against HAV infection through the administration of HepA vaccine or IG is also recommended for unvaccinated persons traveling to or working in countries that have high or intermediate HAV endemicity. 

The CDC says there are 3 brands of hepatitis A vaccines available, Vaqta and Havrix. And, Twinrix is a combined hepatitis A and hepatitis B vaccine approved for people older than 18 years of age. 

In Ohio, doctors, nurses, and pharmacists can deliver the Hepatitis A vaccine to anyone over 2 years of age. 

For more information, please call the Ohio Department of Health Bureau of Infectious Diseases at (614) 995-5599. 

The CDC Vaccine Price List displays current hepatitis vaccine contract prices and general information. And, hepatitis vaccine discounts can be found here. 

Vaccines, like any medicine, can have side effects. You are encouraged to report negative side effects of vaccines to the FDA or CDC.