British Columbia

Hep A vaccinations offered in Nanaimo after Superstore cashier infected

The Vancouver Island Health Authority scheduling vaccinations for store workers and eligible members of public after cashier at Nanaimo Superstore tested positive for hepatitis A.

Free shots offered after cashier at Nanaimo Superstore at 6345 Metral Drive tests positive for the virus

Cases of Hepatitis A are quite rare and many people infected don't display any symptoms. (CBC)

The Vancouver Island Health Authority is scheduling vaccinations for store employees and eligible members of the public tomorrow after a cashier at the Nanaimo Superstore at 6435 Metral Drive tested positive for hepatitis A.

In addition to the store's employees, Island Public Heath is recommending people who purchased and ate raw produce or unwrapped food, that wasn't later cooked, at the following times and dates also get vaccinated as a precaution:

  • Feb. 25: late afternoon and evening
  • Feb. 26: afternoon and evening
  • Feb. 27: late afternoon and evening
  • Mar. 1: all day
  • Mar. 4: evening

Customers who used the self-checkout are not considered to be at risk. The alert does not apply to food products from any other Superstore.

The health authority says there is a small risk that people who consumed raw produce earlier than the above dates, on Feb. 5, 8, 12, 15 or 18 may have also been exposed, but vaccination is not being provided because the time period for effective prevention has passed.

A drop-in immunization clinic for store employees and eligible members of the public is being offered Saturday from 10 a.m. PT to 3 p.m. PT at the Beban Park Social Centre, 2300 Bowen Road, Nanaimo.

VIHA says additional clinics will also be held over the next few days at dates and times yet to be determined.

Hep A prognosis and symptoms

Hepatitis A is a virus found in the bowel movements of infected people that can affect the liver.

It can spread through close personal contact or through contaminated food handled by an infected person. Infants under six months and those with compromised immune systems are most at risk of complications.

Symptoms usually occur from 15 to 50 days after exposure and include fever, tiredness, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain.

The symptoms are followed a few days later by dark-coloured urine, light-coloured stools and jaundice (yellow skin).

When given within 14 days of exposure, the hepatitis A vaccine can prevent infection from the virus.

Health officials say people who have had the virus in the past or who previously received two doses of the vaccine are already protected.

Hep A usually runs its course in about a month, but can take longer in some cases. In rare cases it can cause death. Once a person has recovered, they are immune to the virus.

Map: Nanaimo Superstore at 6435 Metral Drive