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Fill-in-Blank News Release
for County Health Departments

Hepatitis A Vaccine for Food Handlers

For Release: (Date)
Contact: (County Health Department Administrator)
(Phone Number)

The _____ County Health Department and local restaurants and food service establishments have joined together in a unique project to help prevent the spread of hepatitis A in the community.

Beginning (date), the _____ County Health Department will offer hepatitis A vaccination for employees of restaurants and food service establishments in an effort to prevent the transmission of hepatitis A to customers.

"It’s a win-win situation for everybody," said _____, health department administrator. "No restaurant owner or manager wants to be notified that an employee has been identified as having hepatitis A, and no customer wants to hear that they may have been exposed to hepatitis A at their favorite eating spot. This new program will provide a level of protection that will benefit everyone."

Under the health department program, owners pay $25 per dose of vaccine given to their employees. The fee covers the cost of vaccine, administration and record keeping and will be used to purchase more vaccine to continue the program.

The vaccinations are given in a two-shot series, with the second vaccination approximately six months after the first. Each employee receiving the vaccination will receive a card that documents the employee has received the two-shot series.

_____ pointed out that the potential for loss of business and the long-term effects resulting from public disclosure can be disastrous for restaurant and food service establishments. "Last year the Oklahoma Legislature addressed this problem by providing a tax credit for restaurant and food service owners who pay for hepatitis A immunizations given to their employees," s/he said.

Hepatitis A is a commonly reported infectious disease in Oklahoma. The hepatitis A virus is found in the intestinal tract of an infected individual and is shed in the stool. Transmission of the virus occurs when an infected person touches food or another object that is then placed in the mouth of another person.

_____ emphasized that the hepatitis A vaccine is not intended to replace adequate food safety hygiene among food service workers. "Thorough hand washing with soap and warm water after using the restroom and before preparing food is absolutely essential," s/he said. "Each hand sink in the restaurant or food service establishment should be well stocked with soap and towels and a ready supply of hot water, and each employee should be taught the importance of proper hand washing."

_____ said the hepatitis A vaccine program is also open to the public. The charge is $25 per dose, the same as for food handlers.

For more information, contact the _____ County Health Department at (phone number).

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