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CDC: Vaccinate At-Risk Groups for Hepatitis A

Amid reported hepatitis A virus outbreaks in multiple states, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) urges health care providers to vaccinate at-risk groups, including people who use drugs and people experiencing homelessness.

In an update to a 2018 Health Alert Network advisory, CDC urges public health departments, health care facilities, and partners serving at-risk populations to administer vaccines within two weeks of exposure to hepatitis A, per recommendations from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices.

Several groups are at high risk for acquiring hepatitis A or developing serious complications from the infection and should be offered the vaccine, including:

  • people who use drugs (injection or non-injection);
  • people experiencing homelessness;
  • men who have sex with men;
  • people who are, or recently were, incarcerated; and
  • people with chronic liver disease, including cirrhosis, hepatitis B, or hepatitis C.

The agency has received reports of more than 15,000 hepatitis A cases, 8,500 related hospitalizations, and 140 related deaths since the outbreaks were reported in 2016. Left untreated, severe infections can cause cholestatic hepatitis, relapsing hepatitis, or fulminant hepatitis and lead to death.

Local health departments should contact their state health department and notify CDC of any suspected clusters of acute hepatitis A virus by emailing viralhepatitisoutbreak@cdc.gov.

Contact Senior Director of Policy Erin O’Malley at eomalley@essentialhospitals.org or 202.585.0127 with questions.

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About the Author

Emily Schweich is a senior communications associate for America's Essential Hospitals.

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