Hepatitis A vaccine is recommended

October 29, 2018

Due to an ongoing outbreak of Hepatitis A, Baptist Health Corbin and Whitley County Health Department are recommending vaccination for everyone residing in the tri-county area.

CORBIN, KENTUCKY (October 29, 2018) – Due to an ongoing outbreak of Hepatitis A, Baptist Health Corbin and Whitley County Health Department are recommending vaccination for everyone residing in the tri-county area. Hepatitis A is a vaccine-preventable communicable disease of the liver caused by the Hepatitis A virus. It can range in severity from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a severe illness lasting several months. Hepatitis A is usually spread when a person ingests fecal matter, even in microscopic amounts, from contact with objects, food, or drinks contaminated by the feces or stool of an infected person. Signs and symptoms of Hepatitis A can include the following:
• Fever
• Fatigue
• Loss of appetite
• Nausea
• Vomiting
• Abdominal discomfort
• Dark urine
• Clay-colored bowel movement
• Joint pain
• Jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes)

There can be a significant delay between when someone is exposed to the virus and when they show symptoms. “Due to the delay in symptom presentation, every person should receive a vaccine as soon as possible,” Martha Steele, Whitley County Health Department, said.

Signs and symptoms usually appear 2-4 weeks after exposure, although they may occur 2-7 weeks after exposure. Children under 6 years of age with Hepatitis A often do not have or show few signs and symptoms.

Vaccination is an effective way to prevent Hepatitis A. The first dose of vaccine is given to children at 12-23 months of age and the second dose 6 months later. Children that are not vaccinated at 1 year of age are recommended to receive 2 doses at least 6 months apart. Hepatitis A vaccine is not recommended for children under 1 year old. Adults who have not had 2 doses of Hepatitis A vaccine and have not had Hepatitis A can receive the vaccine. Pregnant women can also receive the Hepatitis A vaccine. Those unsure of their vaccination status, who have not received the vaccine, or who have had only 1 dose should consult their healthcare provider.

Anthony Powers, RN, President of Baptist Health Corbin advised, “The best way to prevent Hepatitis A is through vaccination and handwashing. Handwashing specially after using the bathroom, changing diapers, and before preparing or eating food, plays an important role in preventing the spread of the virus.” Hand washing should include vigorous soaping of the hands. All surfaces should be washed including the back of the hands, wrists, between fingers and under fingernails. Hands should then be thoroughly rinsed with running water.

Baptist Health Pharmacy, Whitley County Health Department and other local pharmacies offer the Hepatitis A series vaccine; some people may qualify for a free or discounted vaccine.

Those suspecting that they have symptoms of Hepatitis A should contact their healthcare provider.

More information about Hepatitis A is available online from the Centers for Disease Control and Information at https://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/hav/afaq.htm.

About Baptist Health Corbin
Baptist Health Corbin is a 273-bed, acute care facility providing a wide variety of healthcare services to the residents of Whitley, Knox, Laurel, Bell, Clay, McCreary, Harlan and Campbell counties in Kentucky and nearby Jellico, Tennessee. Part of Louisville, Kentucky-based Baptist Health, the hospital offers 24 points of care in a full continuum from inpatient care to rehab services to behavioral health. Services include cardiac, orthopedics, pain management, a full range of women’s services, including obstetrics and breast care; wound care, pain management, cancer care, and diabetic treatments.

Formerly known as the Baptist Regional Medical Center, the hospital includes outpatient diagnostic, home care, occupational medicine and physical therapy clinics, and a fitness center. Baptist Health has a network of healthcare providers for patients in the Southeast Kentucky area – from Baptist Health Medical Group offices, to Baptist Health Urgent Care and Baptist Health Express Care inside Walmart stores.