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Hepatitis vaccines available

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Next Tuesday, July 16 the Levy County Health Department will be at two locations in Williston to administer Hepatitis A vaccines.

The state of Florida is currently seeing a rise in the number of Hepatitis A cases reported.

Anyone can become infected with Hepatitis A, but some people are at higher risk. People with direct contact with someone who has Hepatitis A, men who have sexual contact with men, people who use drugs and people who are experiencing homelessness are among those at higher risk.

The vaccines are being offered to high-risk individuals. Call the health department at 352-486-5300 to see if you qualify for the free vaccine that will be administed 9-11 a.m. at city hall and Fountain of Life Church, 623 Noble Ave.

What is Hepatitis A?

Hepatitis A is a liver infection caused by the Hepatitis A virus and prevented with the Hepatitis A vaccine. The Hepatitis A virus is found in the stool of people who are infected and can survive on surfaces for several months. When hearing about Hepatitis A, many people think of contaminated food or water, which is one way the virus can spread and a common way that international travelers get infected. However, Hepatitis A is more commonly spread from person to person, which is how people are getting infected in the current outbreaks.

Infection can occur when someone ingests the virus, usually through close personal contact with an infected person. Hepatitis A is very contagious and people can spread the virus before they get symptoms such as nausea, stomach pain and yellow skin or eyes. People who get hepatitis A may feel sick for a few weeks to several months. While most people recover and do not have lasting liver damage, some people need to be hospitalized and even die. People with chronic liver or kidney disease or a compromised immune system are more likely to experience severe illness, leading to liver failure and possible death.

While Hepatitis A can affect anyone, certain groups are at greater risk of being infected in these outbreaks. To help stop the outbreaks, CDC recommends the Hepatitis A vaccine for people who use drugs (including drugs that are not injected), people experiencing homelessness, men who have sex with men, people with liver disease, and people who are or were recently in jail or prison.