The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit is addressing a rise in Hepatitis A cases within the district.

All through this month, free Hep A immunization is being offered by the Health Unit at its clinics in Gravenhurst and Huntsville.

Hepatitis A is a highly contagious liver infection and with the rise in cases, the Health Unit says the best way to prevent it is by getting vaccinated.

Typically on average, we usually only see around 6-8 cases per year, however, Immunization Program Manager Deanna Thompson says since this past Spring alone, there have been around 30 cases of the virus.

“What happens is typically people can get the virus through their stool, it can be passed through their food, surfaces, drinks or anything that is shared,” she said. “Often if you eat out and an infected food handler hasn’t washed their hands, the virus can be spread very easily.”

The Health Unit says that people who are immunocompromised, older, or those with pre-existing chronic liver diseases are more at risk of serious illness.

Thompson adds with a limited amount of vaccine at the Health Unit’s disposal, they’d like to provide it to those who do not have private health insurance.  

“Most health coverage plans cover this vaccine,” she said. “The other piece of this is if you’ve never had a dose before. We really want to target those people because one dose of the vaccine can give you over 90 percent protection.”

Immunization clinics are being offered throughout September.

To book an appointment at the clinics in Gravenhurst or Huntsville, call Health Connection at 721-7520 or 1-877-721-7520 ext. 8813, from Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. 

Those with private health insurance coverage can contact their health care provider to arrange immunization. 

For more information on Hepatitis A, head to the Health Unit’s website.