Residents scramble to get Hepatitis A vaccine amid growing outbreak

Hepatitis A scare prompts Hawaiian to ground crew while thousands scramble to get vaccinated
Published: Aug. 3, 2016 at 9:30 PM HST|Updated: Aug. 3, 2016 at 10:53 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A growing outbreak of Hepatitis A is prompting many to seek vaccination against the disease.

Meanwhile, Hawaiian Airlines is scrambling to help both its employees and passengers after one its flight attendants was among those confirmed to have fallen ill.

On Wednesday, officials with Hawaiian Airlines said all crew members who worked with the affected flight attendant have been grounded until they can be screened and vaccinated. There is no evidence that anyone else at the airline has gotten Hepatitis A.

The flight attendant who fell ill came into contact with passengers on 33 flights in July. Passengers have been asked to monitor for symptoms, and contact their healthcare provider.

"Since the information was put out by the Department of Health 24 hours ago we have just a small number of people contacting," said Peter Ingram, Hawaiian Airlines executive vice president. "I think as word disseminates we'll probably get more."

The airline says it will pay for out-of-pocket expenses related to passengers medical visits. Click here for more details on how to seek a reimbursement.

The flight attendant is among 135 confirmed cases of Hepatitis A since June 12, when the outbreak started.

As the outbreak spreads, the demand for the Hepatitis A vaccine has skyrocketed.

Officials from Kaiser Permanente say although there is no shortage, the average wait time to get immunized at one of its clinics is two weeks.

Patrick Langton told Hawaii News Now that Kaiser initially told him he'd have to wait until the end of September for a vaccine.

"I did tell them that I was at the Chili's in Kapolei and that I was traveling out of the country so they took my name and said they would try to bump me up," Langton said.

Langton will get his shot Friday.

In an effort to meet demand, Times Pharmacy is teaming up with local businesses to hold on-site vaccination clinics.

"We thought that this would be a good service that it would be convenient for people especially if they're at work it might be difficult for them to come visit a pharmacy," said Patrick Uyemoto, of Times.


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