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Health Department Administers 2,011 Vaccines for Hepatitis A

Over 2,000 people filed the necessary paperwork Thursday and Friday inside Remington's before receiving the hepatitis A

Over its two-day clinic, the Springfield-Greene County Health Department administered over 2,000 vaccines for Hepatitis A. Our Anna Thomas reveals the next step in the process.

The employee at Red Robin along South Glenstone Avenue remains the lone confirmed case of the virus to date. And after administering vaccinations to over 300 people Friday, bringing the two-day total to 2,011, the health department hopes to keep the number of confirmed cases at one. Clay Goddard is the assistant director.

“You hope that you don’t have spread from an index case when you take these types of preventive action. I feel good about what we’ve done. I think we’ve made a pretty significant impact,” Goddard said.

Officials ordered another 2,000 doses of the vaccine for next week, to be administered by appointment. These doses will also be saved and used as a six month booster, a standard procedure for anyone who has gotten the vaccine.

The clinics have not seen anyone with symptoms of the virus.  Kathryn Wall, the health department’s public information administrator, says this could be because the symptoms lay dormant for a brief time after exposure. According to the CDC, Hepatitis A symptoms appear two to six weeks later.

But Wall says there is a positive outlook.

 “We’ve been really impressed with the community. People have been really patient and understanding, and been really appreciative that the health department is here to help them. And hopefully, like I said, our best case possible is that no one gets sick from this and everyone goes about their lives,” Wall said.

Since news of the incident Wednesday, some have asked if there should be mandatory vaccinations of Hepatitis A required for food service workers.

Mandatory vaccinations, like the ones required of students for small pox and measles, fall under the state’s police powers. This is the right of the state to promote and protect public health.

So while a mandate like this is constitutional, Kevin Pybas, associate professor of political science at Missouri State University, says it might be difficult to pass considering there are other options of prevention like good hygiene.

“It would be very factually driven. And given that the medical community itself doesn’t seem to be supportive of mandated Hepatitis A vaccine, for the reason that again, Hepatitis A is not the most serious form of Hepatitis. For most people it runs its course, and then they’re inoculated for the rest of their life against it,” Pybas said. 

So for it to be pushed to a state matter of mandatory vaccination, the medical field would most likely have to get behind it. And Goddard says there could be some internal talks of it, but discussions should start on a smaller scale.  

“I feel that you need to be able to have all of your major jurisdictions in the same playbook on that so, if we went that direction, I think it would be best to have Greene County and the City of Republic on board. But it’s too premature to really know what the sense is from our decision makers on that,” Goddard said.

As a reminder, Goddard says symptoms of Hepatitis A should be directed to the patient’s primary care provider; only signs of Jaundice should be taken to the ER. 

Vaccinations will continue Saturday through Monday at both the Smith Glynn Callaway Clinic at 3231 S. National and the Turner Center at 1000 E. Primrose from noon to 4 p.m.

For KSMU News, I’m Anna Thomas.