Hepatitis-A vaccine required for K-12 students for the new school year

Published: Jul. 28, 2023 at 7:54 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - The end of summer vacation is fast approaching for students and a new vaccination is required for the new school year in Louisiana.

Dr. Chaquetta Johnson is the Louisiana Department of Health’s immunization program director.

“The Louisiana Department of Health’s Office of Public Health did add Hepatitis A vaccination to our recommendations for the upcoming school year, for school year ‘23-’24. And it was done so in an effort to try to prevent possible infection,” said Johnson.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, Hepatitis A is a liver infection caused by the Hepatitis A virus and is very contagious. CDC says people can get the virus through close contact with an infected person or eating contaminated food or drinks. Symptoms include fatigue, nausea, stomach pain, and jaundice.

“The Hepatitis A vaccine series is a two-dose regimen,” said Johnson.

The new requirement for K-12 students is spelled out on LDH’s website.

But some parents who spoke to FOX 8 said they had no clue another vaccination was needed for their children.

“It’s very much news to me. I never heard of it before,” said Tyronne Swinney.

Becky Corbin agreed.

“In fact, we just had our orientation, they didn’t give us no paperwork, they didn’t say anything as far as having a HEP A vaccine. If we have to get it they’re going to have to give us time to get it,” said Corbin.

They said their kids attend public schools and the schools did not inform them about the new vax requirement.

“No, nothing,” said Swinney.

And Dr. Johnson says parents can always bring their kids to a public health unit to get the shots if they cannot access them elsewhere.

“There is not a national shortage, I want to be clear about that. We have not received any complaints here in Louisiana of any Hepatitis vaccine shortages, so if parents are having difficulty finding a vaccine they can certainly reach out to the local parish health unit and we can assist them with getting that vaccine,” she said.

Corbin said schools must give students more time to get the shots.

“Even at the health clinics you’re going to have a wait time to go to, so it’s not going to be down right away with her starting school on Tuesday,” she said.

The CDC says the Hepatitis A vaccine is safe, and millions of doses have been given in the U.S. and worldwide since the first Hep A vaccine was licensed in 1995.

“In our efforts to be as proactive as possible and encouraging as much vaccination coverage and safety for our kids as possible we thought this was a good time,” said Johnson.

Johnson says August is National Immunization Month and she says LDH has events planned.

“We have several activities that are going on across the state including here in New Orleans to promote vaccinations for our children and adults,” she said.

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