Florida restaurant workers don't need hepatitis A vaccine

336 reported cases of virus in U.S. since December of 2017

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Some people are pushing for change in Florida after two restaurant workers in Tampa Bay tested positive for hepatitis A.

Restaurant workers in the state are not required to be vaccinated for the contagious disease. Within the past month, workers at Hamburger Mary's in Ybor City and Toasted Monkey in St. Petersburg Beach tested positive for the virus.

Dr. Mobeen Rathore, an infectious disease specialist at UF Health, said the Centers for Disease Control hasn't recommended restaurant employees be vaccinated for hepatitis A. It's something he said is important for children

"If all the children get the vaccine, by the time they're older, they're protected," Rathore said. "The reason it's better to give to children is because children, when they're young, they may not even notice they've got the hepatitis infection. It may just be diarrhea, vomiting, low fever."

For restaurant workers, Rathore said proper hand washing is key. That means using water, soap and rubbing vigorously for at least 20 seconds.

According to the Florida Department of Health, there have been 336 reported cases of hepatitis A since December of 2017. The number of cases spiked in October.

Hepatitis A usually spreads by eating food or drinking water contaminated with infected fecal matter. Symptoms include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Jaundice
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting