Can Ohio Reduce Its Hepatitis A Outbreak?

Hepatitis A vaccine available at Cincinnati pharmacies
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(Precision Vaccinations)

Will increased funding and expanded vaccine access help slow down Ohio’s expanding hepatitis A outbreak? 

The state of Ohio is a leader in the ongoing Hepatitis A virus (HAV) outbreak in America’s heartland with Ohio reporting 3,200 HAV cases on July 15, 2019.

Specifically, the greater Cincinnati area has become Ohio’s hepatitis A hot-spot, reporting 1,060 cases. 

Unfortunately, Ohio is not the only heartland state reporting hepatitis A cases during the 2016-2019 outbreak. Kentucky has reported (4,766), West Virginia (2,528), Tennessee (1,983), and Indiana (1,744) hepatitis A cases. 

Nationwide, 25 states have publicly reported 22,028 hepatitis A cases to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as of July 12, 2019.    

“Getting the Hepatitis A vaccine is the best way to prevent the infection; not only protecting you but also your loved ones,” says Anh Le, PharmD candidate, an intern for Brookshires Grocery Company. 

“CDC recommends the vaccine for everyone from 1 year of age and older, and it is available at pharmacies and doctor offices, so stop by for more information and stay healthy,” Le said.

To offset the cost of HAV vaccines the Ohio Department of Health (DOH) announced on May 27th it was offering $650,000 to local health agencies.

The DOH says the money can help cover costs of prevention and control efforts. Which includes vaccinating people who aren’t in high-risk groups, such as food service workers.  

During 2018, over 25 restaurant chains reported staff had worked while infectious with the HAV. 

Additionally, the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) voted on June 27, 2019, to recommend that all children and adolescents aged 2 through 18 years who have not previously received the hepatitis A vaccine be vaccinated.   

Furthermore, the ACIP unanimously recommended updating the language concerning the utilization of hepatitis A vaccine in the Vaccines-for-Children (VFC) program.

And, for those who do not qualify for a free HAV vaccination, financial support programs can be found at Vaccine Discounts. 

Recently, a study investigated where and under what circumstances patients receive hepatitis A vaccination.

This study found physician recommendations have been a top influencer of decisions to receive hepatitis A vaccinations.

Hepatitis A vaccine news

“In the context of enhancing patient care, our results underscore the need of increasing awareness among primary care providers of the ACIP recommendations for vaccinating adults at increased risk for hepatitis A infection,” according to a statement from the research team that conducted the report.

“The CDC recommends the use of evidence-based strategies, such as provider reminder/recall systems, standing orders and provider education programs, to reduce missed opportunities to vaccinate eligible persons,” the research team said. 

There are 3 HAV vaccines approved in the USA: Vaqta, Havrix, and Twinrix, which are available at pharmacies in most states. 

Furthermore, immune globulin can provide short-term protection against hepatitis A, both pre- and post-exposure.

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.

Previously, the retail medical clinic of CVS Health called MinuteClinic, quickly responded.

CVS said in a press release it was encouraging under-vaccinated Ohio residents to receive the Hepatitis A vaccine at any of the 64 MinuteClinic locations in Ohio.

Vaccines can cause side effects, which should be reported to a healthcare provider, or the CDC.