Five Hepatitis A cases have been confirmed in Mecklenburg County so far this year, according to the Mecklenburg County Public Information Department.
The five cases have happened since April 20, which health officials say is higher than the county's average annual number. An additional case has been suspected.
Mecklenburg County Public Health will begin a vaccination program after the recent cases.
Those at highest risk for contracting Hepatitis A are:
- Those who are household members, caregivers, or have sexual contact with someone who is infected with hepatitis A
- Men who have sexual encounters with other men
- Those who use recreational drugs, whether injected or not
- Recent travel from countries where hepatitis A is common
- Homeless individuals who do not have easy access to handwashing facilities
The vaccine is free for residents with one of the above risks, health officials said.
Residents can get the vaccine Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Northwest Health Department located at 2845 Beatties Ford Road or at the Southeast Health Department located at 249 Billingsley Road.
Insured residents may get the vaccine at their doctor's office.
Hepatitis A cases have been on the rise nationally since 2012, with 1,200 cases reported in the U.S. between July 2016 and November. Those cases include 826 hospitalizations and 37 deaths, according to the Mecklenburg County Public Information Department.
The best way to prevent Hepatitis A is with the vaccine, county health officials say.