Hepatitis A vaccines encouraged in Roanoke Valley after several restaurants experience outbreaks

Clinic held Monday for restaurant workers

ROANOKE, Va. – There has been no shortage of public health concerns over the past few years.

But while most of the attention has been on COVID-19, there’s another concern in the Roanoke Valley.

“It’s not a joke, Hepatitis A,” said Jeff Sullivan, Roanoke native after receiving his Hepatitis A vaccine. “I’ve seen what it can do, there have been deaths. The illnesses I’ve witnessed are horrible.”

Since September, there have been 123 cases of Hepatitis A, 83 of which resulted in hospitalization.

Three local restaurants have had exposure incidents, which has prompted other restaurants in the area to take action.

“I’ve been concerned about it, and I’ve been watching it and wanting to get myself vaccinated, I just got vaccinated today,” said Bob Rotanz, Mac and Bob’s owner. “Because of it with the most recent ones that just came about, we said ‘okay, we’ve got to get going.’”

But even with the concern, Hepatitis A does have a proven vaccine.

“(What to know about) Hepatitis A as we’re in the middle of an outbreak, number one: it’s deadly. Number two, it’s preventable,” Virginia State Delegate Sam Rasoul said, encouraging people to get the vaccine.

In order to get ahead of another outbreak, the Roanoke / Alleghany Health District held a free vaccine clinic on Monday at the Williamson Road library for restaurant workers to get vaccinated.

But aside from restaurant employees, the health department urges anyone who has not had the vaccine to get one.

“Hepatitis A is a safe, effective vaccine, it is a routine childhood vaccination now. Your children are probably vaccinated because it became a routine childhood vaccine,” said Cyntia Morrow, director of the Roanoke / Alleghany Health District. “It’s just older people who need to get vaccinated.”

Health officials say that there is no shortage of vaccines, and to talk to your local health care provider about getting one as a preventative measure.

About the Author

Abbie Coleman officially joined the WSLS 10 News team in January 2023.

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