SOMERVILLE, NJ – For the second day in a row, hundreds of people stood in line outside the Somerset County Human Services building on Warren Street waiting to be vaccinated against the Hepatitis A virus in response to a public health warning issued by state and county health officials who reported that a deli worker at the nearby ShopRite supermarket had been diagnosed with the communicable disease.
The clinic closed earlier than expected Thursday, due to an overwhelming public response. To address the ongoing need, the Somerset County Department of Health will open a third hepatitis A vaccination clinic on Friday, Nov. 8 from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. at 27 Warren Street. No appointment is necessary. Vaccinations for adults 19 and older will be given on a first come, first serve basis while supplies last.
Pediatric vaccines for children 18 and under will not be available Friday.
“We understand residents are concerned,” said Freeholder Director Brian D. Levine. “The county health department has been working diligently to ensure that vaccinations are available."
The line of people waiting to be inoculated against Hepatitis A outside the Somerset County Human Services building on Thursday stretched several hundred yards alongside the building and across a parking lot.
Wednesday's free clinic was forced to close early at 4:30 p.m. because the supply of vaccine had been exhausted; 300 people who were still waiting were given Priority passes to be presented today. Rain was in the forecast, prompting this notice on the county Department of Health website:
"If you are attending the Hepatitis A Vaccination Clinic today; please come dressed appropriately for the cold and inclement weather. Bring an umbrella if needed."
Today's free clinic opened at noon and was scheduled to close at 8 p.m.
The clinic inside the building was staffed by six nurses administering the shot; one at a time, health workers escorted groups of ten through the front entrance. Up and down the line outside, health workers were handing out forms attached to clipboards for people to fill out before entering the building for their inoculation.
There were no scheduled appointments, with a steady stream of cars turning into the parking lot entrance where they were able to access the county parking deck in the office complex.
Somerville Police, the Somerville Community Emergency Response Team, Somerville Office of Emergency Management and the Somerset County Sheriff's Office were on hand for crowd control.
This clinics were scheduled for those individuals who may have eaten items purchased at the in-store deli/appy department or used the restrooms at the ShopRite of Somerville from Oct. 13 to 30, 2019. To be effective, the hepatitis A vaccine should be received as soon as possible, but no later than two weeks after eating food from this deli. For most people, this date would be Nov. 13, 2019. Immunocompromised persons – those with weakened immune systems – should talk with their healthcare provider about getting immunoglobulin or Ig instead of the vaccine.
If you believe you were exposed you should also:
- Monitor your health for symptoms of hepatitis A infection including fatigue, low appetite, stomach pain, nausea and jaundice up to 50 days after exposure.
- Wash your hands with soap and warm water frequently and thoroughly, especially after using the bathroom and before preparing food.
- Stay at home and contact your healthcare provider immediately if symptoms of hepatitis A infection develop.
Hepatitis A is a highly contagious liver infection caused by the hepatitis A virus. The virus is one of several types of hepatitis viruses that cause inflammation and affect your liver's ability to function.
You're most likely to get hepatitis A from contaminated food or water or from close contact with a person or object that's infected.
Hepatisis A signs and symptoms typically don't appear until you'v had the virus for a few weeks. But not everyone with Hepatitis A develops them.
Symptoms and signs include:
- Sudden nausea and vomiting
- Abdominal pain or discomfort, especially on the upper right side beneath your lower ribs (by your liver)
- Clay-colored bowel movements
- Loss of appetite
- Low-grade fever
- Dark urine
- Joint pain
- Yellowing of the skin and the whites of your eyes (jaundice)
- Intense itching
If you have additional concerns about your health, contact your own health care provider for individualized guidance.
Answers to frequently asked questions about hepatitis A are available at https://www.nj.gov/health/cd/documents/faq/hepatitis_a_faq.pdf.
For more information about hepatitis A, visit the Somerset County Department of Health website at www.co.somerset.nj.us/health.