Thanks to a partnership with the Department of Public Health and Wellness and the University of Louisville’s Global Health Center, Louisville is now subsidizing Hepatitis A vaccines for restaurant workers, so they can receive the vaccine for just $25, knocking $40 to $75 off the price. This is an important step in curbing the Hepatitis A outbreak declared by the state in November that has seen more than 200 cases in Louisville and has spread to Southern Indiana. The subsidy is an encouragement to employers to cover their employee’s vaccinations.  Read more to find out how to get the discounted vaccines.

Homeless people, illicit drug users (any kind of drug), and restaurant workers are the most susceptible, but hospitality workers can pass it on to their guests. It is a liver disease caused by fecal matter on people’s hands getting into the body orally – usually through contact with dishes and utensils.  Dave Langdon, Public Information Officer at  Louisville Metro Public Health and Wellness, said some restaurants like Against the Grain are footing the bill. The Kentucky Restaurant Association and the Louisville Food Truck Association have been helping to spread the word by alerting all of their members that the program exists.

“We just started this a couple days ago,” he said. “People have been calling in every day, and the response has been very good. This time of year has a lot more going on in Louisville with Chow Wagons as we approach spring and the Kentucky Derby where food is being served in various environments, and so we’re pushing this to help curb the spread.”

Langdon went on to say they will also be reaching out to out-of-town vendors coming in for events like Thunder Over Louisville. There are a lot of street vendors during the Derby season, so they are trying to get as many people in the food and hospitality industry vaccinated, “simply because we do have a vaccine that is very very effective.”

Employers can arrange to have a pop up clinic set up at their establishment to vaccinate 20 or more employees. ( Contact Dr. Ruth Carrico at (502) 852-1324 to make arrangements.) Those with fewer employees can get the vaccines at U of L World Health Center by calling ahead. Employers wanting to vaccinate more than 200 employees can call Ken Luther at 502-574-6648.

I’m pretty opinionated,  and I think this a great and responsible step in keeping your restaurant free from the poor press and fear that comes along with the news reporting that someone at your restaurant contracted the virus.  As I’ve watched this outbreak grow, I’ve wondered why more employers haven’t stepped up, and it’s good to see the city make it more affordable. If you can’t cover it completely, at least contributing some money towards your employees getting vaccinated seems less of a cost than an empty restaurant when people are afraid to eat there.

Also, Metro United Way is answering calls about this outbreak. If you have questions about the virus, you can contact the Department of Public Health and Wellness at 502-574-6520  and press 1 to reach them.