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ISPH reissues call for hepatitis A vaccination

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SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) on Friday issued another call for people to get vaccinations in response to a hepatitis A outbreak.

IDPH said in a statement that the state declared the outbreak in December 2018 after observing an increase in person-to-person transmitted hepatitis A cases. Since then, there have been 177 cases associated with the outbreak statewide. Three of the most recent cases were reported in east-central Illinois, one in central Illinois, and two in suburban Cook County.

“While we are only slightly above our annual average for the number of hepatitis A cases, the accelerated rate of new cases in Illinois, not only in the past week, but the past month, is concerning,” said IDPH Director Nirav D. Shah, M.D., J.D.  “We encourage those at highest risk for infection, including men who have sex with men, homeless individuals, and those who use drugs, to get vaccinated against hepatitis A.”

In an effort to prevent additional cases in Illinois, IDPH is working with 38 local health departments around the state covering 41 counties to make hepatitis A vaccine more readily available.  In early September 2018, IDPH requested a large number of hepatitis A vaccines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  That vaccine is being delivered to local health departments to be available for free or at a reduced cost.  Men who have sex with men, people who use drugs, and people who do not have a home should check with their health department about a free or reduced cost hepatitis A vaccine.

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