By Vivian Moreau
Concerns over what a Hepatitis A outbreak could do in Whistler have prompted local health authorities to hold a vaccination clinic to curtail the potential threat of the liver disease.
Environmental health officer Stuart Pike says although there was only one reported case of the disease in Whistler this year, there have been six cases over the past five years.
“The thing with it is if we did get an outbreak of Hepatitis A it could conceivably cause big problems here… so we’re pretty keen to try and do as much as we can to prevent this disease,” he said.
Vancouver Coastal Health Authority will be holding a clinic the first week in December and Hepatitis A shots will be available for $35, half the regular cost. Anyone interested must pre-register for the clinic to be held at Whistler Health Care Centre Dec. 6 and 7.
Hepatitis A shots are recommended for those working in hospitality as a means of protecting themselves and patrons from the virus.
Hepatitis A is a highly infectious liver disease passed by eating or drinking food or liquids contaminated by handlers carrying the virus, or through unprotected sex. Flu-like symptoms of fever, nausea, loss of appetite are accompanied by the disease’s tell-tale jaundice indicators of yellowing of skin and eyes.
“The situation with Whistler is with so many people coming from around the world and that it’s quite a tight community and a party town it could spread quite quickly if it got a lead on us,” Pike said.
In addition to Hepatitis A shots, flu shots will be available on a drop-in basis at the two-day clinic.
A private Vancouver medical firm is picking up the slack for those who have been unable to purchase flu shots in Whistler. Ray Christopherson, co-owner of the Travel Medicine and Vaccination Centre, says his company will have $25 flu vaccines for sale.
Unlike many B.C. flu shot clinics that experienced supply shipment difficulties this fall, Christopherson says his Georgia Street clinic’s supply came in on time from Solvay Pharma, one of two drug manufacturers that supplied vaccine for private sale. The bulk of B.C.’s flu shots are available free to those considered high risk of catching the seasonal influenza, such as babies, seniors and health care workers. But over three-quarters of British Columbians are not considered high risk and would need to purchase a flu shot if they wanted to be vaccinated. Whistler doctors have quickly run through limited supplies in the past few weeks.
The clinic for both vaccinations will be held from noon to 5 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 6, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Thursday, Dec. 7, 2 nd floor, Whistler Health Care Centre.