Health Department Offers Free Hepatitis A Vaccines

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Free hepatitis A immunization clinics for adults are scheduled in Pendleton and Hermiston. A limited number of doses will be available on a first-come, first-served basis. Donations will be accepted.

“I strongly encourage any adult who has not received a hepatitis A vaccine to come” said Sarah Williams, interim administrator for the Umatilla County Health Department.

The immunization clinic will be at the Health Department office in Pendleton, 200 S.E. Third St., from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Monday, July 8, and at the Health Department office in Hermiston, 435 E. Newport St., from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Friday, July 12.

Hepatitis A is a contagious liver disease in humans that results from infection with the hepatitis A virus. It can range in severity from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a severe illness lasting several months. It is usually spread when a person ingests fecal matter — even in microscopic amounts — from contact with objects, food, or drinks contaminated by the feces, or stool, of an infected person.

“The best way to prevent hepatitis A is through vaccination with the hepatitis A vaccine,” said Williams.

Two doses, given six months apart, provide lifelong immunity, said Williams.

“The hepatitis A vaccine is highly effective in preventing hepatitis A virus infection; protection begins approximately two to four weeks after the first injection,” she said. The first vaccine will be given free during at the clinics. A second vaccine can be purchased six months later at the Umatilla County Health Department.

The hepatitis A vaccine is a shot of inactive hepatitis A virus that stimulates the body’s natural immune system. After the vaccine is given, the body makes antibodies that protect a person against the virus. These antibodies are then stored in the body and will fight off the infection if a person is exposed to the virus in the future.

For more information, contact Umatilla County Health Department at (541) 278-5432.