Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Portsmouth hepatitis A: Schools vaccination starts

A vaccination programme against hepatitis A is due to get under way in a number of Portsmouth schools later.

Pupils and staff are among 700 people being vaccinated following an outbreak of the disease in the city that has so far affected 17 people.

Eight cases were originally recorded among one family in November.

Public Health England said risk of transmission at Isambard Brunel Junior School, Meredith Infant and Pre-school and Izzies Nursery School was low.

It said contact between families was the suspected cause of the 17 cases and the school vaccination programme was a "precautionary measure".

Isambard Brunel Junior School head Ian Gilmore said it would be a "tough day".

'Tough day'

He said: "They are little children and obviously they'll be a bit worried, but it's about getting them through the day as best we can. Hopefully, they'll be reassured by it."

He said messages about good personal hygiene were being reinforced, ahead of all the children at the school being vaccinated

After the eight cases within one family were confirmed in November, a selection of pupils and staff were vaccinated at Devonshire Infant School in Portsmouth and Fernhurst Junior School, Southsea.

On 28 January vaccinations were offered to pupils and staff at Isambard Brunel Junior School after a pupil there contracted the disease, often associated with foreign travel.

Hepatitis A facts

  • Hepatitis A is a viral disease, which affects the liver
  • The illness usually begins with a sudden onset of fever (temperature), feeling unwell, loss of appetite, nausea and stomach pain which is followed within a few days by jaundice
  • The infection is most commonly spread from person to person by infected faeces and poor hygiene
  • Good hand washing, especially after using the toilet, and before eating, is the most effective way to prevent hepatitis A spreading
  • Illness may appear between two to six weeks after contact with an infected person
  • Symptoms usually clear up within two months, although occasionally last up to six months, and older adults tend to have more severe symptoms.
  • In most cases the liver will make a full recovery.

Source: Public Health England

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