Should food handler be vaccinated for Hepatitis A? Bill Marler, owner and publisher of Food Safety News sure thinks so, and has blogged repeatedly calling for mandatory vaccination for food handlers every time there is an outbreak of Hepatitis A-related to dining in a public place.
I usually agree with my old friend, but on this one I think a deeper look is required before forming an opinion on mandatory vaccination.
First of all, of all the things that could go wrong when I dine out, contracting Hepatitis A is the least of my worries.
Vibro may be my biggest concern at my age, because it can be deadly, but I can control that risk by avoiding raw shellfish, especially oysters.
Many people with Hepatitis A do not even know they have it. Others may develop a little jaundice and dark urine along with some malaise for a few days, but almost all will recover uneventfully.
Most people infected with Hepatitis A fall into a group other than millennials dining out. They are often among the homeless and needle sharing addicts.
Some health departments are advocating for more funding to vaccinate this at-risk group along with providing clean needles. They are probably not going to get a lot of support for those efforts.
For anyone advocating for mandatory Hep A vaccination for food handlers, I ask if their kids and/or grandkids have been vaccinated for the once common childhood diseases like measles, mumps, rubella, tetanus, polio and diptheria?
Those also used to be mandatory prior to enrolling in kindergarten, unless there were religious beliefs prohibiting the immunization.
Latest numbers in my adopted state of Colorado show that 18% of children are not vaccinated with all of the above. That not only threatens their health, but the health of classmates and maybe some immunocompromised adults in the household.
Before vaccines were discovered, 9 out 10 of adults born before 1962 contracted measles. The infection was not often fatal (“only” 450 died each year), but tens of thousands developed complications such as pneumonia or encephalitis.
We eliminated smallpox by universal, international vaccination programs.
Polio is not eliminated, but the risk is almost zero today.
We have recently seen rubella and rubeola (measles) outbreaks spread across the country. Why are the immunizations not mandatory?
In developing countries, mothers will walk miles with their children when UNICEF is in the area to get them vaccinated while parents here won’t drive a few blocks.
It sure is not the cost since the federal vaccines for children program assures that will not be a limiting factor.
I guess today’s parents trust social media and their play date moms more than their physicians who have maybe seen a case or two of tetanus or whooping cough. The new parents most likely have not.
My daughter works in a pre-school. She just recently had to offer proof she had been vaccinated against measles because of an outbreak.
If she had not been vaccinated, she would have had to take 28 days off work to avoid exposure.
Even though she has been vaccinated, vaccines do not always “take.” She also lives with MS and takes a powerful medication that compromises her immune system putting her at higher risk if any of the kids in her school are contagious.
We could reduce the risk of Hepatitis A in our population slightly with mandatory vaccination for food workers.
We could eliminate the risk of many viral illnesses, including influenza, if parents just followed the guidelines put forth by the National Vaccine Advisory Committee and their physician.
Please talk to your children about vaccines; protect your grandkids and mine and my daughter, please.