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MECKLENBURG, N.C. -- More than 1,700 people were vaccinated by the Health Department for Hepatitis A in free clinics from Friday until Monday.

On Wedesnday, the manager of a Papa John s restaurant was diagnosed with the disease which is highly contagious and affects one's liver.

I think we've served a lot of the community and at least they know what needed to be done. said Paula Black of the Mecklenburg County Health Department. We mobilized very quickly got a plan together and started a conference call with the state and cabrrus county.

The health departments in Mecklenburg and Cabarrus counties are asking anyone who ordered pizza from the Papa John s at 8016 Cambridge Commons Drive between March 28 and April 7 to get the vaccine.

The restaurant s manager was diagnosed with Hepatitis A after visiting another country. But health officials say no one else has been reported with the disease.

Hepatitis A has a two-week incubation period during which the vaccine is effective, said the health department. People who ordered from the Papa John s on March 28-30 were the priority for health workers.

The restaurant is near the Mecklenburg-Cabarrus County line, and 25-30% of the 2,400 customers served during that period live in Cabarrus County, said Suzanne Knight of the Cabarrus Health Alliance.

The rest live in Mecklenburg County.

Five thousand new vaccines arrived at a joint vaccination site at CPCC s Cato Campus Saturday in time for everyone waiting in line to get their shots.

Both health departments estimate that at least 2,400 customers are at risk, but admit the number could be much higher because many of the pizzas were likely shared by more than one person.

It could have been 5000, said Knight. She added that Cabarrus County hasn t dealt with an outbreak this large in nearly 20 years.

Since then, the way health departments deal with mass outbreaks has changed largely because of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center.

The threat of germ warfare meant large metropolitan areas regionalized responses and put into place plans for large-scale outbreaks like this one.

In public health, this is what we do, said Knight, ..what we drill to do, what we plan for -- so when things like this come our way it's a matter of getting all the data and mobilizing.

Those plans helped make the joint clinic for Hepatitis A vaccines come together quickly and run smoothly at a Point of Distribution, or POD, said Paula Black of the Mecklenburg County Health Department.

Everything we would need to open up and start giving vaccines are contained within that unit, she said.

That means vaccines that are not normally kept on hand in large numbers, like the Hepatitis A vaccine, arrive quickly.

That speed makes a difference when people like April Rodriguez have short notice that they need a vaccine. Rodriguez said her children are immunized for Hepatitis A as part of their regular childhood vaccinations, but she didn t know if she was.

I just couldn't go back that far in my records to see if it covered me as a child, said Rodriguez. I was told it was supposed to, but just to follow up I came out here.

The health department location on Beatties Ford Road will stay open until 8 p.m. to admister the free vaccinations after that people who may have eaten pizza from the Papa John's should contact the Health Department.

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