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Preschoolers vaccinated against hepatitis A after diagnosis

File photo / Thinkstock
File photo / Thinkstock

More than 150 children, relatives and staff at a Christchurch preschool have been given hepatitis A vaccines today after a child was diagnosed with the infectious disease.

Canterbury Medical Officer of Health Dr Alistair Humphrey said 156 vaccinations were given today to all children who attended Linwood Kindercare, at-risk relatives and staff.

The infected child was from a Christchurch family with 12 confirmed hepatitis A cases.

"Hepatitis A is transmitted by the fecal-oral route, and good hand hygiene, particularly thorough handwashing, is key to preventing its spread. Preschools can be a high-risk environment for the spread of hepatitis A, particularly where there is nappy-changing,'' Dr Humphrey said.

"This is an outstanding effort from the staff, parents and public health nurses. Everyone needing the hepatitis A vaccine turned up for vaccination today and was quickly processed.

The preschool should be commended for the way they have handled this situation. Their actions, and that of parents, have successfully contained hepatitis A from spreading at the preschool, he said.

Linwood Kindercare centre director Lynette Katene said the centre worked closely with public health nurses and community and public health to ensure all those who needed a vaccine got one.

The experience was a reminder to preschools of the importance of having very high hand-washing and hygiene standards, she said.

- APNZ

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