The Alabama Department of Public Health is recommending all food service employees get vaccinated and take precautions due to the spread of hepatitis A.
Dr. Karen Landers with the department says good hygiene prevents the spread of hepatitis A. As the virus shows up in more Alabama counties, the state has put food service employees on alert, encouraging them to get the vaccine, because the virus can be spread by touching food.
Dr. Landers tells WAAY 31, "Good practices such as good hand washing practices after a person goes to the bathroom and before they handle food as well as getting the hepatitis A vaccination, which is very safe and effective."
The general manager of Gyro Uno in Madison tells WAAY 31 the store is taking proactive steps to ensure the safety of customers and employees.
"As soon as they step foot in our kitchen, they have to wash their hands. As soon as they leave, come back in, change jobs, they always wash their hands and as long as you do that, you will be safe from spreading hepatitis A from one person to another," said Danielle Mayes.
Health officials have noted that the vaccine is 95% effective and it typically costs $70 per dose. One pharmacist told WAAY 31 it's important to keep hepatitis A from spreading, as the flu season approaches.
Dr. Jillian Lann, a pharmacist at Madison Health Mart Pharmacy, said, “During this time of year, there are so many bacteria and viruses going on, especially with the flu season coming up. That’s going to be a major concern for me for people that have damage to their liver due to hepatitis A."
In Madison County, the health department and some pharmacies are giving the vaccination, free of charge. You can get the shot at your local department of health for free if you are in an outbreak county.
"Madison County is designated as an outbreak county, which has made us eligible for the free vaccine in this county for people who have risk factors," said Dr. Landers.
The health department says it's been working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and that there are plenty of doses to go around.
For more information on outbreak counties, click here.