Make Hep A vaccinations mandatory for everyone, especially those who serve food

Guelph, the town and the university, is like every other cow-town, eager to blow itself (it’s in Canada).

hepatitis.AThe Guelph Mercury says in an op-ed the Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health board received a review this week of the agency’s response to a public health scare arising from a local restaurant staffer being diagnosed with hepatitis A.

The board heard that the organization was quickly informed by the worker’s physician of the diagnosis and made prompt, effective and smart moves upon receipt of that information.

Among other correct and timely moves the board heard the agency made in this case was using a variety of media formats to spread the word of this situation and to communicate times and locations where concerned residents could obtain vaccinations at rapidly convened clinics.

(They contacted to get an estimation of reach; how the hell do I know, we just put stuff out there.)

The organization also adjusted quickly and resourcefully to meet higher than anticipated public demand for vaccines, the board heard.

By the account of the board, it was a case well-handled by health unit staff — and commendations were offered to that team following the briefing.

An earlier story declared the response to the Hepatitis A outbreak was public health’s finest hour.

When a family doctor alerted Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health that he had a patient with hepatitis A, the health protection and prevention agency leapt into action.

Dr. Nicola Mercer, the local medical officer of health, painted a picture of a responsive staff and an amicable public to the board of health Wednesday as she described the series of events that led to some 1,400 vaccinations being administered after a food handler at the popular Marj’s Kitchen in Alma was diagnosed with the hepatitis A virus.

Mercer said she received the call from the physician on Jan. 21.

“Normally you wouldn’t hear about a hepatitis A case,” Mercer said. “But in this case, the patient was a food handler who had worked the entire time of being infectious.”

After examining the lab work, staff determined the individual was infectious between Jan. 2 and Jan. 20 and that potentially 4,000 people had been exposed.

A number of things happened in tandem. Staff interviewed all staff at Marj’s Kitchen and administered vaccinations since these were the people most at risk of infection.

Lost in the platitudes is a simple message: make Hepatitis A vaccinations mandatory for everybody, especially food service workers.