Morgan County inmates, jailers receive Hepatitis A vaccines amidst outbreaks in nearby counties

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MORGAN COUNTY, Ala. - On Thursday and Friday, one by one Morgan county inmates were brought in and offered a Hepatitis A vaccination.

Public health officials said it's for good reason.

"North Alabama is designated as an outbreak in Jackson County, Madison County, and Dekalb County," explained Michael Glenn with the Alabama Department of Public Health. "Morgan County is not designated as an outbreak county yet. So we're here to try to get in front of it to keep it from getting to that point."

The spokesperson for the Morgan County Sheriff's Office said viruses like these spread very quickly in jails.

"Inmates are highly susceptible because they're in communal housing," explained Mike Swafford. "A large quantity of folks in one area, so we said, 'yeah, let's do it.'"

Glenn said symptoms could strike you as a common illness, but last for quite some time.

"A lot of flu-like symptoms: nausea, vomiting, intense stomach pain, jaundice at some point in time. It usually lasts anywhere from a few weeks up to 3 or 4 months."

And while the vaccine is recommended, it is optional for inmates.

"Thankfully most are taking it," Swafford added. "But it's just a precaution for them while they're in here, but also when they get out because hepatitis A can be easily transmitted."

Morgan County officials say in the event that an outbreak was to happen, the jail has a 'round the clock medical team.

"We have the ability to quarantine large portions of our population. Then on a large scale outbreak, we would take guidance from the Department of Public Health," explained Swafford. "Have them come in and actually assist us because that's what they do every day."

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