Hepatitis A becomes Portugal’s ‘new vaccination scare story’

Hot-on-the-heels of the recent ‘measles scare’ – in which health chiefs reinforced warnings over vaccinations needing to be up-to-date – came news this week that Portugal is under attack from Hepatitis A. A mobile vaccination unit has been despatched to the Bairro Alto area of Lisbon as warnings have gone out ahead of summer festivals. Hepatitis A is a viral liver disease. Outbreaks throughout Europe started being flagged early this year.

Concerns are that it could spread in atmospheres where people are drinking heavily and eating food that could be contaminated.

Isabel Aldir, in charge of the country’s viral hepatitis programme said that 93% of cases occur in men, and 57% have resulted from unprotected sex.

The majority of cases occur in 18-50-year-olds.

Right now, up to 48 people are being vaccinated per day in the Greater Lisbon and Tejo health district – the area with the most cases reported recently (coincidentally, also the area with the highest number of measles outbreaks).

The country’s health director Francisco George has told reporters that Portugal will have “more than 53,000 doses of hepatitis A vaccine by the end of the year”, and that added to current stocks of 11,000, this should be enough to stem the current outbreak.

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