Hepatitis A outbreak: Wayne County is offering free vaccination clinics

Hepatitis A vaccine (WDIV)
Hepatitis A vaccine (WDIV)

DETROIT – The Wayne County Department of Health, Veterans and Community Wellness (HVCW) will host free vaccination at five clinics targeting high risk populations as part of a larger "Don't Play with Hep A" campaign designed to combat the spread of hepatitis A.

The county's health department explains hepatitis A is a serious, highly contagious liver disease caused by the hepatitis A virus (HAV).

"HAV is found in the feces of people with hepatitis A and spread by eating contaminated food or water, during sex or by living with an infected person," reads a statement from the health department. 

HVCW has coordinated the five clinics to focus on groups considered at a greater risk of contracting the disease, including: people with a history of injection and non-injection drug use, homelessness or transient housing, incarceration, men who have sex with men, and those with underlying liver disease.

"The hepatitis A vaccine is highly effective in protecting someone who may be exposed to the disease," said Dr. Ruta Sharangpani, medical director of HVCW. "Community-based clinics help us reach out to high-risk populations. Local access increases the opportunities for people to be vaccinated against this highly contagious and sometimes fatal disease."

Hepatitis A vaccines will be available to all patrons, 19 years and older, at the following community-based clinics:

  • Tuesday, April 17 - 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Ford Community & Performing Arts Center - 15801 Michigan Ave, Dearborn, 48126
  • Tuesday, April 24 - 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Civic Park Senior Center - 15218 Farmington Road - Livonia - 48154
  • Wednesday, April 25 - 11 a.m.-3 p.m.  Lincoln Park Library - 1381 Southfield Road - Lincoln Park - 48146
  • Monday, April 30 - 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Ford Senior Center - 6750 Troy Street - Taylor - 48180
  • Wednesday, May 2 - 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Canton Twp. Administration Bldg. - 1150 S. Canton Center Rd - Canton - 48188   

The "Don't Play with Hep A" campaign will focus on raising awareness about methods of prevention such as the importance of getting vaccinated, practicing good hand washing, and avoiding sex with infected partners. The effort is a result of a $203,000 grant from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services as part of a $7.1 million statewide appropriation approved by the State Legislature in late 2017 to address the hepatitis A outbreak.

Hepatitis A symptoms can include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Belly pain
  • Feeling tired
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Yellowing of the skin and eyes
  • Dark urine
  • Pale-colored feces
  • Joint pain

HVCW urges all residents to get vaccinated for hepatitis A. Vaccine is available at many clinics and pharmacies. If you have any other questions about hepatitis A go to www.cdc.gov/hepatitis, or call HVCW at 734-727-7078.

RELATED: Michigan health officials open 24/7 hepatitis A helpline to fight outbreak

Hepatitis A outbreak strikes in Michigan

Last week the Department of Health said significant outbreaks of hepatitis A virus have been reported in Kentucky and Michigan. The agency said Michigan has had more than 800 cases, including 25 deaths.

The AP reported state Epidemiologist Pam Pontones said getting vaccinated for hepatitis A and thoroughly washing hands when preparing food are "simple, safe and effective ways" to prevent the spread of hepatitis A.


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