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Sandy's Hepatitis A scare comes to an end

Three clinics last week serve up vaccines for more than 230 people

Sandy’s Hepatitis A scare is over.

Twelve days ago the Clackamas County Public Health Department announced that a concession worker at Sandy Cinemas had exposed theater patrons to Hepatitis A from Feb. 12-15. Now, after three immunization clinics treated 232 people, the two-week window of time to receive a vaccine or immune globulin shot has ended.

Scott Anderson, spokesman for Clackamas County Health, Housing and Human Services, said the clinics had been effective. The clinics were coordinated by the county and Legacy, Providence and Adventist health systems.

“Absolutely. Everyone who needed to get served got served,” Anderson said.

The county estimated 2,800 people were exposed to the disease, but Anderson stressed that the possibility of infection is low. New Hepatitis A cases in the United States are rare, only about 1,000 a year, and the concession worker had recently traveled overseas.

And while the vaccine is usually offered at pharmacies, holding the immunization clinics was a way to be certain that there was enough available for all the people who wanted to be safe, not sorry.

“We wanted to have these clinics just to make sure everyone is safe and well-cared for,” Anderson said.

People who continue to have Hepatitis A concerns should contact their health care provider, Anderson said. No more county-sponsored clinics will be offered in Sandy.

Rex and Dianne Moody of Sandy attended the first of the clinics on Tuesday, Feb. 23, which was held at Legacy Health’s Firwood Clinic. The Moodys had celebrated their wedding anniversary on Valentine’s Day by going to a movie.

Although doctors told the more than 100 Gresham and Sandy residents who crowded into the clinic that their chance of getting Hepatitis A was minimal, Rex Moody didn’t want to take any chances.

“We went to see Star Wars and it was our anniversary,” Moody said as he waited for his wife to get her shot. “And now we’re here. Happy anniversary to us.”

Hepatitis A is a viral, contagious disease of the liver. It is spread from person to person, often by inadequate handwashing after using the toilet or changing diapers, or eating food prepared by an infected person. Typical symptoms include fatigue, fever, loss of appetite, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting or jaundice.

John Wunische of Sandy also attended the first clinic. He said he went to Sandy Cinemas in a group of 12 people.

“I’m glad Clackamas County was so quick to respond,” he said. “I hadn’t had that shot so thought I needed one. I’ll feel better about the whole thing now.”

Reporter Quinton Smith contributed to this story.