Salt Lake County offers free vaccinations after ‘at-risk’ population sees hepatitis A outbreak

The Salt Lake County Health Department is offering free vaccines for hepatitis A, due to a recent outbreak among “at-risk” populations in the area.

Normally, the county sees about four cases of hepatitis A each year — and only about two by August, department spokesman Nicholas Rupp said Friday. So far this year, there have been 16 reported cases of people with the disease.

The outbreak appears to have occurred among people who are experiencing homelessness, people who identify as illicit drug users and people who have recently been incarcerated, said Rupp, adding that the health department views the risk to the general public as “minimal.”

Interested patrons can visit the southeast corner of Pioneer Park, 300 W. 400 South, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Monday to get the vaccination. The health department also is giving out a free slice of pizza to those who get vaccinated (while supplies last).

Symptoms of hepatitis A may, but do not always, include jaundice (the yellowing of the skin or whites of the eyes), abdominal pain, nausea or diarrhea.

Hepatitis A is generally transmitted through ingesting food or having oral contact with items contaminated by infected feces.

Rupp emphasized that the outbreak has been ”well contained” and there is no need for widespread alarm.

”We have not identified any significant risks to the general public,” Rupp said.

The vaccine clinic is intended for an area accessible to the populations most at risk, he said.