Public Health experts from NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde are recommending all children and staff from a primary school in West Dunbartonshire are vaccinated against Hepatitis A, after one pupil contracted the illness.
Public Health Consultant Gillian Penrice has sought to re-assure parents and emphasised that the action being taken at St Mary’s Primary in Alexandria is a precautionary measure, and the likelihood of children becoming unwell due to Hepatitis A infection is low.
Parents and carers of children at the school – which has nearly 200 pupils – have today (Monday) been notified of the vaccination programme.
Hepatitis A is an infection caused by the Hepatitis A virus. It is usually a short term illness and is very rarely serious. The symptoms of Hepatitis A include fever, abdominal pain, loss of appetite and nausea/vomiting, and it can sometimes lead to yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice) due to inflammation of the liver.
Dr Penrice said: “In children, the infection is often very mild and may cause no symptoms at all. This means that children can be carrying Hepatitis A and pass it on to adults, who are more at risk of complications.
“Infection with Hepatitis A can be caused by consuming contaminated food or water. The virus can also spread from someone with the infection to others in the same environment, for example if they share toilets, or by eating food touched by a person with the infection.
“The NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde Public Health team, together with Health Protection Scotland and West Dunbartonshire Council, have reviewed the risk related to the school.
“Our investigations have not identified a suspected source of the infection. Therefore, as a precaution, we are recommending a Hepatitis A vaccination for all primary school children who attend. The vaccine reduces the risk of being infected after being in contact with someone who has the infection.”
A vaccination session will take place in the school this Friday (1 February).
Dr Penrice added: “I wish to emphasise that this action is being taken as a precautionary measure, and the likelihood of pupils becoming unwell due to Hepatitis A infection is low. However, taking up this offer of vaccination may help to provide peace of mind by ensuring each child is personally protected.
“If anyone in your family develops any of the symptoms outlined in the information provided, please contact your GP or, if it is out of hours, call NHS 24 on telephone 111.”
To help answer any questions, a Q&A drop-in session has been organised at the school for Tuesday 29 January from 3-4 pm. Members of the NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde Public Health Protection Unit and the school immunisation team will be available speak to and answer any queries parents and carers may have.
For further information either telephone 0141 201 4429 or email [email protected]