Vaccines for schoolchildren after Hepatitis A outbreak

Schoolchildren are being vaccinated
Schoolchildren are being vaccinated

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MORE than 100 people in Portsmouth are being vaccinated against Hepatitis A following an outbreak.

Public Health England (PHE) is investigating after seven people were diagnosed with the disease in a school in the city.

Around 150 vaccinations are now being carried out.

It is Devonshire Infant School and Fernhurst Junior School in Southsea that have been affected.

The viral infection is very uncommon in England and often associated with foreign travel.

It can cause a range of illness from mild, non-specific nausea and vomiting through to hepatitis which includes liver inflammation, jaundice, or icterus and rarely liver failure.

The illness in young children may often be very mild or they may not show any symptoms at all.

Public Health England said the likelihood of spread of this infection in the school environment is very low, however as a precaution, all parents have been advised of the signs and symptoms of Hepatitis A.

Dr Anand Fernandes, consultant in health protection at PHE Wessex, said: ‘We are working closely with colleagues in the local NHS and Portsmouth City Council Environmental Health and Public Health Departments to manage the very low risk of further spread of this illness.

‘It is an infection that can be passed from person to person especially within households.

‘We have reviewed the risk posed by this infection and have recommended the vaccination of all children and staff in specific classes as a precautionary measure.

‘No other children, staff or visitors to the schools will be offered the vaccine as the risk of exposure to them is very low.

‘We want to stress the importance of good hand hygiene.

‘Wash hands thoroughly using soap and water after using the toilet and before and after handling food. Small children should be supervised in washing their hands.’