• Hundreds vaccinated after possibly exposed to hepatitis A at SouthPark restaurant

    By: DaShawn Brown , Glenn Counts , Mark Barber

    Updated:

    CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Time is running out for people who may have eaten at a south Charlotte restaurant to get vaccinated for hepatitis A. 

    If you ate at the Village Tavern in SouthPark on Oct. 30, you have until Tuesday to get a shot. 

    Officials said the vaccine is only effective 14 days after exposure. 

    261 people have been vaccinated for hepatitis A in Mecklenburg County since Thursday. 


    As hundreds of people now show up at the health department for the latest scare, the facility on Billingsly Road will be open from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Monday and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday.


    The Mecklenburg County Health Department released the numbers after an employee at the Village Tavern in SouthPark, who had the virus, handled food Oct. 30.

    There were about 150 people that may have been exposed to hepatitis A at the restaurant, the health department confirmed.

    However, officials said there could be even more.

    [PAST COVERAGE: Mecklenburg Co. health department wraps up hepatitis A vaccinations following outbreak]

    Health officials did not identify the person, who they said is a restaurant worker. They said the worker went to the hospital Wednesday. Health department officials said they are checking to see if the employee worked at other restaurants.

    Officials said the possible hepatitis A exposure happened at Village Tavern on Congress Street on Oct. 30. All patrons who ate there on that day are recommended to get the hepatitis A vaccine by Tuesday, Nov. 13.

    [CDC: Hepatitis A information]

    Vaccinations for the customers who may have been exposed and for residents who meet the high-risk factors for hepatitis A will be administered at the Mecklenburg County Health Department on Billingsley Road.

    “The shot wasn’t bad,” said Otto Harris, who got a vaccine shot Friday. “It’s like a flu shot a little pain.”

    On Friday, the health department administered 182 vaccines.

    Officials said 21 people related to this case came in to get the vaccination Thursday.

    “After consulting with the state today, we are recommending a vaccination for all employees and exposed patrons who ate at Village Tavern located at 4201 Congress Street on Tuesday, Oct. 30,” Public Health Director Gibbie Harris said. “According to the Centers for Disease Control, the vaccine must be given within 14 days of exposure for it to be effective.”

     

    Below are the times the public health vaccination clinics will be open:

    • Monday, Nov. 12: 9 a.m. – Noon
    • Tuesday, Nov. 13: 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.

    “It’s not (the restaurant’s) fault,” Harris said. “I’m not in a hurry to get back there. Emotionally, I’ve got to get beyond it.”

    The Village Tavern said it has been working with the North Carolina Department of Health since the server was diagnosed with hepatitis A.

    “Yesterday, we were notified by the North Carolina Department of Health of this situation and are taking precautionary steps to protect our other employees and our customers,” said Tony Santarelli, president and CEO of The Village Tavern, Inc. “The employee was not aware or showing symptoms the day he reported to work, and we are not aware of anyone getting sick or this employee infecting anyone. That said, food safety and personal hygiene are of the greatest importance in all of our restaurants, so we are proactively taking every step necessary to ensure the well-being of our employees and guests.”

    “All of our SouthPark employees are being vaccinated within the next 24 hours, per the recommendation of nurses at the Communicable Disease Department,” Santarelli said. “We also encourage our customers who dined with us on Oct. 30 to be vaccinated as soon as possible.”

    Officials with the restaurant said the SouthPark location has been inspected multiple times over the past 24 hours and it was found to be in full compliance.

    Channel 9 found that the Village Tavern was inspected by the Health Department on Sept. 21 and scored an 87. The restaurant was inspected again on Oct. 10 and received a 92.5.

    This is the 24th case of hepatitis A reported in the county since the beginning of the year.

    In June, health officials said a Hardee's employee in west Charlotte was diagnosed with the virus.


    PAST COVERAGE:


    Thousands of people were warned to get a vaccine after they ate at the Hardee's restaurant where the employee worked.

    A pair of class action lawsuits were filed as result of the Hardee’s outbreak.

    “I've represented families of people who've died or who've had liver transplants because of hepatitis A,” attorney Bill Marler said. “So, it’s a pretty serious bug.”

    Marler represents some of those customers from the Hardee’s in Charlotte.

    “These things can be a hassle for a customer who has to go stand in line to get a shot, but it's also expensive for the restaurateur, not just in a lawsuit that I might bring but also in the loss of business, and the loss of popularity of their restaurant.”

    Marler said restaurants should offer employees the hepatitis A vaccine, even before an outbreak.

    “Ninety percent of the people that we're seeing have been hospitalized,” Marler said. “That's very unusual.”

    To read more about the hepatitis A outbreak in Mecklenburg County click here.

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