Erie County hosting vaccination clinic to counter rise of Hepatitis A

Oct 10, 2018

Erie County is continuing to respond to this year’s rise in Hepatitis A cases with an immunization clinic in Buffalo.

The clinic will take place from 3 p.m.-7 p.m. Wednesday at the Jesse Nash Health Center at 608 William St. for people 18 years of age and older.

Hepatitis A vaccinations are common for children, but not often kept in stock for adults. The viral infection of the liver can be spread by consuming food or water contaminated with the virus, or sharing food, utensils or a bathroom.

“Since this is becoming such a proliferative problem in Erie County, we want the rest of the public to be able to be immunized,” said Erie County Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein.

The latest publicized case of Hepatitis A announced at the start of the month involved an employee at Doino’s Pizzeria Bar and Grille in Cheektowaga. Three other people were infected. The county has continued to investigate Hepatitis A and, since then, confirmed five more cases. It’s uncertain, however, if the new cases are tied to the pizzeria.

The cost of vaccination at the clinic is $55 per person and can be paid with cash, credit, debit or personal check. Invoices will be made available to submit for insurance reimbursement.

“We’re not making a profit,” said Burstein. “We chose the lowest cost Hepatitis A vaccine available on the market. And we have just a small minimal administration fee. If you look on the website for travelers’ clinics or other immunization clinics, it will cost at least twice that to get a Hepatitis A immunization.”

Between 2015 and 2017 Erie County saw an average of two to four cases of Hepatitis A. This year’s total is now up to 25 – a significant chunk of the 66 cases seen across the state, not including New York City.

Burstein’s office communicates that information with state department of health, which relays it to the Centers for Disease Control. The CDC has been helping fight Hepatitis A across the country, but Erie County is nowhere near the level of outbreak that’s overwhelmed other states.

“So far we’re trying to be very aggressive, because learning from the mistakes of these other states, we don’t want to get to that point where Hepatitis A is out of control in the community,” said Burstein.

Appointments for Wednesday’s immunization clinic are required and can be made online or by calling (716) 858-7101 from 8 a.m.-4 p.m.