FLORENCE, KY (FOX19) - The Northern Kentucky Health Department is recommending that everyone in the Boone, Campbell, Grant and Kenton counties receive a hepatitis A vaccination.
“The number of reported cases of hepatitis A has quadrupled. More than half of the reported cases have a risk factor of illicit drug use and homelessness," said Dr. Lynne Saddler, District Director of Health at NKY Health.
NKY Health first announced the outbreak in August with more than 50 reported cases. On November 29, they announced that the number of reported cases has reached more than 200 and two people have died.
“Hepatitis A infection can be prevented through vaccination and frequent, proper hand washing. Children, ages 1 through 18, are already required to be vaccinated against hepatitis A for school. With the outbreak occurring, we are strongly encouraging the vaccine for all adults,” said Dr. Saddler in a press release.
Hepatitis A is a viral infection of the liver that can cause loss of appetite, nausea, tiredness, fever, stomach pain, yellowing of skin and eyes, brown-colored urine and light-colored stools. People may have some or none of these symptoms and it could take up to seven weeks after being exposed to the virus for someone to become ill.
“We’re encouraging everyone in Northern Kentucky, while you’re out and about this holiday season, get vaccinated. The reality is you might not have the risk factors but you might come in contact with someone who does," said Dr. Saddler.
The hepatitis A vaccine is given in two doses, six months apart. The first shot provides short-term protection and the second shot provides long-term protection. The vaccine is available at most doctors’ offices, pharmacies and retail clinics.
People with health insurance or Medicaid should be able to get the vaccine for free, but should check with their insurance provider for coverage information.
NKY Health can also provide the vaccine at its county health centers to those who are on Medicaid and to those who do not have insurance, as well as those who have insurance that does not cover the vaccine. Health center locations and phone numbers can be found at https://nkyhealth.org/individual-or-family/county-health-centers/.
“A couple of months have passed and we’re still seeing a rise. We know people are busy this holiday season but we’re reminding people to get vaccinated and while you’re out, get a flu shot too," said Dr. Saddler.