Free hepatitis A vaccine campaign in response to a widespread outbreak of hepatitis A that is now affecting rough sleepers in Victoria.
Outbreak of hepatitis A in Victoria
As of 19 March, 68 cases of hepatitis A virus have been confirmed and more cases are under investigation. The department has responded by funding free vaccine for men who have sex with men, people who inject drugs throughout 2018. Rough sleepers are now able to access this vaccine throughout 2018 after evidence has emerged that rough sleepers are at an increased risk.
What is hepatitis A?
Hepatitis A causes inflammation of the liver and is transmitted from person to person, predominantly via the faecal–oral route or through inadequate handwashing and other hygiene practices that may be difficult for rough sleepers to manage. Immunisation against hepatitis A saves lives and protects others in the community. Two doses are required, a minimum of six months apart.
Information for homeless and accommodation support services
The below fact sheet includes important health information for homeless rough sleepers, has been prepared to provide more information and advice about hepatitis A and about the vaccine, which is being delivered through GPs, primary health clinics and community health centres. Please discuss this campaign with your staff, and encourage your clients who are rough sleepers to see a GP or other immunisation provider as soon as possible to request free vaccination. The guide has been written so it can be shared with members of the public and others who do not have a medical background.
Ordering the vaccine
The vaccine will be provided through standard vaccine providers including community health services and general practitioners. Health service immunisation providers can order an estimated volume of inactivated hepatitis A vaccine under the category of Additional vaccines recommended for at risk people – Havrix 1440 on the government vaccine order form.
Please contact Communicable Disease Prevention and Control on 1300 651 160 for more information, or for information about the vaccine call the Immunisation Unit on 1300 882 008.