Last week’s alert that a Sterling restaurant employee was diagnosed with hepatitis A sent many Loudouners to their doctors’ offices and local pharmacies causing a run on the vaccine, which remains in stock but not everywhere.
On Aug. 1, the Loudoun County Health Department reported that an employ at the Señor Ramon Taqueria in Sterling had been diagnosed with hepatitis A—an inflammation of the liver that causes jaundice, fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dark urine and light-colored stools—and that anyone who ate there from July 10-26 could have been exposed to the disease, although it stated that there was no indication of the food there being the source of infection.
That alert prompted many residents to get the hepatitis A vaccination—a vaccination Loudoun Health Department director David Goodfriend said that many people have never received because of the infection’s rarer occurrence in the U.S.
Although hepatitis A is uncommon in America and, according Goodfriend, pharmacies generally keep a limited number of any vaccine stocked so they don’t go to waste if unused, many of the county’s major pharmacies have kept it in stock in the past week.
In Leesburg, the LMG Cornwall Urgent Care center, the Walgreens locations on Sycolin Road and in Fort Evans Plaza II and the Wegmans in the Village at Leesburg all reported having the hepatitis A vaccine in stock.
In Sterling, the CVS in the Sterling Park Shopping Mall and the Wegmans in Dulles 28 Centre are both stocked.
In Purcellville, the vaccine can be found at the Walgreens in The Shoppes at Main & Maple. There, a pharmacy technician said they “get it in pretty regularly.”
Residents should also be able to get the vaccine at any Inova primary care practices, as they all reported not seeing an influx of patients requiring or requesting the vaccine in the last week.
The county Health Department also welcomes residents to visit its Leesburg or Ashburn clinics to get vaccinated, although it is a busy time for the department, as thousands of kids are headed back to school and are lining up to get vaccinated and bring their immunizations up to date.
While there’s plenty of places to get the hepatitis A vaccination in Loudoun, many of which might not be reported here, some pharmacies either had to restock or are still out of the vaccination following last week’s rush.
According to a pharmacy technician, the Walgreens in Ashburn’s Goose Creek Village had to restock after several residents came in to get the vaccination last week.
But a few pharmacies are completely out of stock. Those include the Walgreens in South Riding’s East Gate Marketplace, the Walmart Supercenter in Sterling and the CVS inside the Target at Sterling’s Potomac Run Plaza. “It kind of wiped us out,” a CVS pharmacy technician said Thursday.
Goodfriend said the county identified only one hepatitis A case and feels that the risk for more cases popping up is low.
In response to the single case, Health Department staff promptly inspected the restaurant and offered free hepatitis A vaccinations to employees. Goodfriend said the alert was a reminder to residents of the value of vaccinations.
According to a statement from the Virginia Department of Health, individuals who have not previously had hepatitis A or have not been previously vaccinated for the disease are susceptible to infection.
For more information on hepatitis A and the vaccine, or other diseases or health-related concerns, call the county’s Health Department at 703-777-0236.