Children and staff at school to be given Hepatitis A vaccine

PA

Pupils and staff at a primary school in West Dunbartonshire are to be given a vaccine against Hepatitis A after one child contracted it.

St Mary’s Primary in Alexandria, which has nearly 200 pupils, will take the action as a precautionary measure on Friday.

Parents and carers of children at the school were notified on Monday about the planned vaccination programme.

Hepatitis A is a liver infection which is usually a short-term illness and is rarely very serious, with most people expected to make a full recovery from it within a couple of months.

Symptoms include fever, abdominal pain, loss of appetite and nausea/vomiting.

It can also sometimes lead to yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice) due to inflammation of the liver.

Public health consultant Gillian Penrice, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, 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.

“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.

A question-and-answer drop-in session has been organised at the school on Tuesday between 3pm and 4pm.

Members of the NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde public health protection unit and the school immunisation team will be available to speak to and answer any queries parents and carers may have.