The City of St. Louis Department of Health and its Division of Corrections have partnered to provide hepatitis A vaccinations for persons held at the city’s correctional facilities. All 800 persons who are eligible to receive the vaccinations will get them. The vaccinations are a proactive public health intervention measure.
Although only one hepatitis A case has been reported in the City of St. Louis, Missouri is one of 25 states that has experienced an outbreak since 2016, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Between September 2017 and July 16, 2019, Missouri reported 366 cases of hepatitis A to the CDC. A common source for the Missouri cases has not been established.
Currently, there are no hepatitis A cases in the City of St. Louis correction facilities.
Hepatitis A is preventable but once contracted, it is highly contagious and can spread through direct person-to-person contact or by ingestion of food or drink contaminated with stool from an infected person.
“A comprehensive strategy to prevent hepatitis A in our community must include our correctional facilities,” says Dr. Fredrick Echols, director of health for the City of St Louis.
“The close proximity of individuals housed in correctional facilities increase their risk for infection transference, making this vaccination project important to protect both the inmate population, staff, visitors and the health of the general public as inmates reintegrate into society.”
For additional information on the hepatitis A virus, visit https://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/hav/index.htm.