Colorado offering free vaccination clinics amid a hepatitis A outbreak in the state
Colorado public health agencies have provided nearly 6,000 hepatitis A vaccinations to at-risk populations in an ongoing effort to mitigate an outbreak that began in October. There have been 52 cases in the outbreak so far, all among people experiencing homelessness and/or substance use issues, people who are incarcerated, and contacts of people with those risk factors.
“Hep A is completely preventable, and outbreaks can be stopped if people receive the vaccine,” said Nicole Comstock, deputy director of the Communicable Disease Branch at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. “Colorado’s local public health agencies have done a remarkable job providing the vaccine to those who need it most, and in doing so preventing cases and associated health care costs.”
Vaccination efforts are taking place statewide, but are concentrated in counties with outbreak cases — primarily El Paso and Fremont counties — as well as adjacent counties and along the Front Range. There have been an estimated 80 public health vaccination clinics since the outbreak began in October in addition to increased educational messaging through printed materials and targeted digital advertising. Local agencies are collaborating with law enforcement, homeless shelters, substance-abuse treatment centers and other community partners in this effort.
To prevent additional illnesses and outbreaks, public health is focused on getting vaccines for people who are transient or experiencing homelessness, with substance use issues, inmates in county or city jails, and those who live, have close contact with or sex with someone who has hepatitis A.
The hepatitis A vaccine is available at doctor’s offices and many retail pharmacies. Residents can check VaccineFinder.org to find a retail location.
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Cam Daniel is a former youth addiction counselor who’s been a Pitkin County sheriff’s deputy for three years.