A Hepatitis A outbreak is still at its peak in Georgia and residents are being urged to get vaccinated.

Some Walker County residents say they're having to foot the bill for a follow-up dose, despite getting their first vaccine free of cost.

Melody Brown says she had no idea Hepatitis A was going around in her neighborhood until she spoke to her nephew.
“My nephew made a comment about today's my last day to get my hepatitis shot at the health department and I said for what and he said McDonald's exposure and I'm like are you kidding me,” Brown explained.

That was back in March. Then, the health department confirmed an employee at this McDonald's off Lafayette Road was infected with the virus. Residents were warned to get checked, if they ate or drank anything at the restaurant between March 4-29th.

“I thought well I haven't been there and then I thought I stopped by on the way to the doctor's office and got a coffee. Went to grab my receipt; I was in the time frame,” Brown said. “Was I just exposed? Do I actually have it? You know I really didn't know at that point.”

Brown did exactly what officials advised and got vaccinated at the Catoosa County Health Department. It was advertised for free. .

“They didn't ask for insurance, not an insurance card, nothing,” Brown said. “After we were getting the shot she said you'll need to come back in six months and get a second shot.”

According to the Georgia Department of Public Health, the first Hep A shot has an 11-year life span. A second dose is recommended for lifelong protection. Spokesperson Logan Boss sent the following statement:

“If you think it’s been six months since you received a hepatitis A vaccination at your local county health department, it may be time to get your second dose of vaccine. Two doses of the hepatitis A vaccine given six-months apart are recommended for lifelong protection against the disease. Evidence shows, however, that one dose of the vaccine provides protection for up to 11 years. 

We are able to offer the first dose free to at-risk individuals to help stem the hepatitis A outbreak Georgia is currently experiencing. However, to conserve vaccine, we are only able to offer the first dose free.  The second dose may be covered by Medicaid, Medicare Part D, or your private insurance plan.

Call or visit your health department to confirm it’s been six months since your received your first hepatitis A vaccination, and we  can advise what your out-of-pocket cost, if any, will be for the second dose.”