Hepatitis A Vaccinations Extended At Portsmouth School

Health officials investigating an outbreak of Hepatitis A in Portsmouth have confirmed another case.

Public Health England (PHE) is extending vaccination for the viral infection at Devonshire Infant School.

Working with the NHS in Portsmouth and Portsmouth City Council, Wessex PHE Centre, has reviewed the risk of infection and will now extend the offer of vaccination, which was previously offered to selected classes, to all children and staff at Devonshire school, as a precautionary measure.

Previously, evidence suggested transmission was limited to household settings but this further case suggests that transmission may have occurred within the school.

The offer of vaccination is also being given to children and staff at Fledglings pre-school as a precautionary measure because there is some shared use of facilities by the two schools.

Hepatitis A vaccine is commonly given for travel reasons and is very safe and effective, although like all vaccines it may not prevent infection in all cases.  It is therefore important to seek medical advice in the event of symptoms.

Good hand hygiene is an important way to help prevent spread of this infection as is seeking travel health advice before going abroad on holidays.

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."

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