Local health expert weighs in on Hep A bill in legislature

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - A bill that would require food service workers to get vaccinated against Hepatitis A is making its way through the legislature.

This comes after several reports of positive Hep A tests in employees of restaurants across Region 8.

Dr. Shane Speights with NYIT College of Osteopathic Medicine said vaccines are always the best way to prevent getting Hepatitis A.

But, as far as the risk to the public, House Bill 1823 might not have a significant impact, if passed.

Each positive case of Hep A in a restaurant worker that Region 8 News has reported comes with minimal risk to the public, both Speights and state health officials have said.

Arkansas Department of Health officials always suggest getting vaccinated just in case, but Speights said the chance of actually contracting the disease that way is very low.

However, he does agree this would be added protection.

"I think one of the take homes is, vaccines make a difference, vaccines save lives, and they reduce the incidents of disease," Speights said. "So, in general, from a physician's standpoint, I'm going to tell you vaccinations, vaccinations, vaccinations."

The bill is sponsored by Representative Jack Ladyman (R-Jonesboro) and has been assigned to the House Public Health, Welfare, and Labor Committee.

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