PASCO COUNTY, Fla — The Florida Department of Health in Pasco and Pinellas Counties are teaming up to offer free hepatitis A vaccinations.
Adults can receive the hep A vaccine from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, August 17.
The vaccinations will take place at St. Vincent de Paul Roman Catholic Church, located at 4843 Mile Stretch Dr. in Holiday.
Officials will also be offering offering free HIV and hepatitis C rapid testing during the vaccination event. Results will be available in 20 minutes.
Florida Surgeon General Dr. Scott Rivkees declared a Public Health Emergency earlier this month due to the drastic increase in hepatitis A cases in the state.
Health officials say vaccination is the best way to prevent the spread of hepatitis A. People who should be vaccinated for hepatitis A include:
- All children at age 1 year
- People who are experiencing homelessness
- Users of recreational drugs, whether injected or not
- Men who have sexual encounters with other men
- People with direct contact with others who have hepatitis A
- Travelers to countries where hepatitis A is common
- People with chronic or long-term liver disease, including hepatitis B or hepatitis C
- People with clotting-factor disorders
- Family and caregivers of adoptees from countries where hepatitis A is common
Hepatitis A is a highly contagious disease that attacks the liver. Infected people are most contagious during a period two weeks before symptoms appear to one week afterwards.
Symptoms usually start within 28 days of exposure to the virus. Not everyone will show all of the following symptoms:
- Jaundice (yellowing skin and whites of eyes)
- Loss of appetite
- Nausea and vomiting
- Stomach pain
- Dark-colored urine
- Pale or clay colored stool
The best way to prevent the spread of hepatitis A is through good hand hygiene. Make sure to thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water after using the bathroom or changing diapers.
People showing signs of hepatitis A symptoms should seek medical care immediately. No medicines can cure the disease once symptoms appear.
The Florida Department of Health established several hotlines for people who may have questions about hepatitis A. In Pasco County, call 727-619-0400. In Pinellas County, call 727-824-6932.