British Columbia

Hepatitis A cases trigger vaccinations at North Ridge Elementary in Surrey

Fraser Health is alerting students and staff and offering vaccinations at North Ridge Elementary in Surrey today after several people became ill with hepatitis A.

Fraser Health offers vaccination clinic for staff and students after hepatitis A exposure at school

Vaccination clinic offered to staff and students at Surrey, B.C., elementary school after hepatitis A exposure 1:52

Fraser Health is alerting students and staff and offering vaccinations at North Ridge Elementary in Surrey today after several people became ill with hepatitis A.

"We know transmission has occurred in that school setting and we want to make sure nobody else is infected," said Dr. Helena Swinkels of the Fraser Health Authority.

"We want to offer vaccines as soon as possible because, if given in 14 days, the vaccine can prevent the illness from happening at all."

The health authority issued an alert late Sunday, recommending students and staff of North Ridge Elementary be vaccinated against hepatitis A

A clinic was open at the school gym Monday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. PT.

The clinic and advice to vaccinate are only for people who have spent a lot of time at the school, said Swinkels.

"We are not worried that this is spreading among the general public or even people who may have spent short time at the school or have mixed with students," she said.

The school district says it will do a thorough cleaning before classes return next week, but some parents don't think the steps being taken go far enough.

 "I just got out of there and it is not clean. It's disgusting in there," said parent Laura Westwood.

"I have photos of dirt on the walls, dirt on the handles. How am I supposed to expect my child is going to be safe coming back here next week?"

Cleaning underway to prevent spread

A number of cases of the virus were first diagnosed in one family linked to the school in recent months, said Swinkels.

It has since spread to several students and one staff member, according to Surrey School District spokesperson Doug Strachan.

The school, which has 375 students and 40 staff, is currently on spring break and the building is being thoroughly cleaned with a "room-by-room wipe down" said Strachan.

"We're pulling out all stops to ensure Fraser Health can conduct this immunization ... as well as contacting families," he said.

"Our schools are maintained to a very high degree of cleanliness from all angles. I've never heard any complaints."

Families who are currently away for spring break will have the option of a second hepatitis A immunization clinic next week.

Hepatitis A is a liver infection caused by a virus, and is spread when a person eats or drinks something that has come into contact with infected stool or vomit.

With files from Jeff Harrington

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