Hepatitis A and Reasons for Immunization

Submitted by Chris Lemphers RN, CHN supervisor for NTC., August 17, 2011

Immunization Clinics are being offered in Port Alberni.

Important Information

Preventative Hep A Vaccinations for Children: 

VIHA Public Health nurses will be at the Port Alberni Friendship Centre

Thursday Aug. 18 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.,

Tuesday Aug. 23 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Thursday Aug. 25 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

Tuesday Aug. 30 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

and

Thursday Sept. 1 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

What is Hepatitis A:

Hepatitis is a virus that affects the liver. It is found in the bowel movements of infected people and can be spread through close personal contact or contaminated food handled by infected people. Care in hand washing and safe food practices at large gatherings are important ways to prevent the spread of the Hepatitis A virus.

History of outbreak:

Hepatitis A has been circulating in the Cowichan Valley since the fall of 2010 and First Nations people have been affected more often than non-First Nations. Between October 2010 and January 2011, there were 20 confirmed cases of hepatitis A in the Cowichan Valley. To date, there have been a total of 65 cases linked to the Cowichan Valley outbreak.

In December 2010 the Medical Health Officers recommended Hepatitis A immunization for First Nations people living in the Cowichan Valley (at home and away from home) who were under 40 years of age and who had not had confirmed hepatitis A illness or two previous doses of hepatitis A vaccine.

There have been recent cases connected to the Cowichan Valley outbreak identified in First Nations communities located in Saanich and Nanoose Bay/ Lantzville and most lately in Campbell River, Gold River and away from home in Port Alberni.As a result of this, the decision was made to offer Hepatitis A immunization to all First Nations children ages 0 to 18 years living at home and away from home in central and north island as a means to stop the further spread of this infectious disease.

This 2 dose vaccination will also be offered to other adults who are at less risk through VIHA Public Health Nursing and the NTC nursing programs.

Hepatitis A outbreak management recommendations:

Besides immunizations, hand-washing is important to break the cycle of passing contamination to other people either through direct contact or food. Hand washing is simple, but highly effective as was demonstarted during the H1N1 pandemic a few years ago.

Nuu-chah-nulth Community Health Nurses are currently offering Hepatitis A vaccinations to members living at home as well as partnering with VIHA to facilitate access to clinics for members living away from home in Port Alberni.

For information on Hepatitis A and the availability of clinics contact your local community health nurse in your community or VIHA if you live away from home.