AN outbreak of Hepatitis A in two Leeds schools has seen national health chiefs offer mass vaccinations in the LS9 area.
Public Health England (PHE) stepped in after around 20 cases of the rare virus were confirmed in the area, sparking a vaccination programme that will impact thousands of school staff and residents.
The YEP understands that the 630-pupil Richmond Hill Primary School, in Clark Lane, and 460-pupil Brownhill Primary Academy, in Torre Drive, are the two schools where all staff and pupils are being immunised.
Hepatitis A is a viral infection which affects the liver.
A message put out to parents at Richmond Hill Primary School urges them not to “panic” over the situation.
It reads: “We strongly advise you not to Google search ‘Hepatitis A’ as you may access inaccurate and possibly worrying information.”
PHE is working with Leeds City Council and the NHS in Leeds to vaccinate those most likely to have come into contact with the carriers.
Around 300 people have taken up the vaccine when offered so far, and PHE is stressing that anyone who has not yet been offered the vaccination does not need it at the current time.
Dr Mike Gent, consultant in communicable disease control with PHE, said: ““We have seen a small number of confirmed cases of Hepatitis A recently, all within a particular geographical community in the Leeds 9 area.
“As a result, we have targeted the people living in the area where the cases have been to offer them vaccination as a preventative measure to help make sure the infection does not spread further into the community. This has included inviting people living closest to where the cases have been to drop-in clinics in the area for vaccinations and we will be vaccinating the staff and pupils in two local schools where there have been cases confirmed among the pupils.”
He added that the most effective thing anyone can do to prevent the spread of Hepatitis A is to “practice good hand hygiene” after using the toilet and before or during eating or preparing food.
Dr Gent said: “We have been working closely with the schools where cases have been confirmed, to advise staff and parents of these good hand hygiene measures to reduce the risk of the infection spreading further, and to advise that they can seek advice from their GP if they have any concerns.”