City health officials respond to statewide outbreak of hepatitis A

Hepatitis A vaccine
Photo credit Nikki Boliaux
PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — On Monday, the Pennsylvania Department of Health announced an outbreak of hepatitis A in the state, with Philadelphia and Allegheny counties being hit the hardest. 

In response, the Philadelphia Department of Public Health released its own numbers.

Doctor Steve Alles, director of the Division of Disease Control, said the numbers have been slowly climbing since 2017, and the city took a proactive stance in mid-2018.

"Starting last summer in July, Disease Control at the health department went out to the Kensington neighborhood, working with Prevention Point of Philadelphia, and we, onsite, in the encampments, on the streets, offered hepatitis A and flu vaccines to the homeless and drug-using people," he said.

So far, Alles said 400 people have been vaccinated against hepatitis A. 

But the job isn't over. 

He said an aggressive strategy is underway to reach the opioid-using and homeless populations, with nurses offering vaccines in shelters. The department will also be promoting the hepatitis A vaccine at Philly Pride Parade and Festival on June 9.