Tulsa County Sheriff To Offer Hepatitis Vaccine Shots To Jail Inmates


Tuesday, October 17th 2006, 10:06 am
By: News On 6


The Tulsa County Sheriff's Office and is now offering hepatitis vaccine shots to all its inmates. News on 6 crime reporter Lori Fullbright says on any given day, there are more than 1,500 people in the jail and three of them have been diagnosed with hepatitis, a disease that spreads easily and has no cure.

You might be thinking, this doesn't affect you, but it most certainly does. Around 32,000 people were arrested and booked into the Tulsa County jail last year. Some are there for only a few days or weeks, others can be there for months or longer. When they get out, they go back to their families, back to their children, back to their jobs. If they have hepatitis, they can spread it to others.

Hepatitis is easier to spread than a disease like HIV. Using someone's razor or toothbrush could spread it. Say someone with hepatitis uses a razor, then their child uses it, and they could get infected. Then they go to school and all of a sudden, your child could be at risk of getting the disease.

That is why this partnership between the sheriff's office and the health department is not just about the jail inmates or the doctors, preachers, lawyers and psychologists who go to the Tulsa County jail. It's about the entire community.

Tulsa County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Tim Albin: "We may not be able to change some of the behaviors, but, we may be able to prevent some of the consequences of those behaviors."

Risky behaviors include getting tattoos and body piercing, unprotected sex, injected or inhaled drugs, even one time or anyone who comes in contact with blood. Hepatitis can stay in a drop of dried blood for a week or more.

Barbara: "To get these people in one areas as they come in is really, truly an opportunity for public health because what's happening in jails today across the country is public health."

First, the jail educates inmates about who needs a shot, and then they offer them on a voluntary basis. 90 people have accepted that offer and they hope many more will in the future.

The hepatitis vaccination is a series of three shots given over a six-month period. The Tulsa County jail is hoping to get grant money to pay for the shots, which cost more than $100 per series.

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Are you at risk for hepatitis? You should be screened if you:

Had tattoos, body piercing, permanent makeup.

Had unprotected sex with multiple sex partners.

Ever injected and/or inhaled drugs (even once).

Ever had contact with human blood (in a job or accidentally).

Received a blood tranfusion before 1992.

Ever had an abnormal liver enzyme test.

Received an organ donation before 1992.

Had hemodialysis.

Had clotting factor concentrates before 1992.