CHARLOTTE, N.C. — If you ate at The Village Tavern in SouthPark on October 30, you should receive a hepatitis A vaccination as soon as possible.
Public Health Director Gibbie Harris announced Thursday the outbreak identified by the State and Centers for Disease Control earlier this year in Mecklenburg County has led to 24 cases since Jan. 1, including a Village Tavern employee diagnosed Wednesday.
“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,” Harris said. “According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the vaccine must be given within 14 days of exposure for it to be effective.”
Public Health vaccination clinics for customers who might have been exposed and for residents who meet the high-risk factors for hepatitis A will be held at Mecklenburg County Health Department, 249 Billingsley Road:
- Thursday, Nov. 8, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
- Friday, Nov. 9, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
- Saturday, Nov. 10, 9 a.m. – Noon
- Sunday, Nov. 11, 9 a.m. – Noon
- Monday, Nov. 12, 9 a.m. – Noon
- Tuesday, Nov. 13, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
People who dined at Village Tavern on Oct. 30 are strongly urged to get a vaccination in the next six days.
The Health Department spokesperson confirms to NBC Charlotte that 21 vaccines "related to the Village Tavern exposure" were given out Thursday. Health officials estimate about 150 people were exposed.
On Thursday evening, Village Tavern released a statement that said, in part:
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 wellbeing of our employees and guests.
“We’re all really upset about this. We ate there for a birthday celebration,” said customer Kim Fochi. “And now we have to all get these vaccinations.”
Health inspection reports on Village Tavern showed the restaurant scored an 87 (B) in September. Critical violations included an employee observed wiping their nose and then proceeding to food prep without washing hands.
In October the restaurant bumped up its score to a 92.5 (A).
“Our environmental health folks were out there yesterday evening, inspecting that restaurant again,” said Harris. “They’ve seen improvements over the issues this restaurant has had in the past.”
Health officials offered free vaccinations for anyone exposed to Hepatitis A on October 30 at Village Tavern. However, some customers said they want the restaurant to pay for other costs.
“I want them to comp all our bills for that day,” said Fochi.
Public Health announced on June 6 that North Carolina Public Health officials and the CDC declared an outbreak of the liver disease in Mecklenburg County. Those who have had a hepatitis A infection, or one hepatitis A vaccination, are protected from the virus and do not need to take action.
The high-risk factors for hepatitis A include:
- Those who are household members, caregivers, or have sexual contact with someone who is infected with hepatitis A
- Men who have sexual encounters with other men
- Those who use recreational drugs, whether injected or not
- Recent travel from countries where hepatitis A is common
- Homeless individuals who do not have easy access to handwashing facilities
The best ways to prevent hepatitis A include:
- Get the hepatitis A vaccine
- Practice safe handwashing procedures – wash your hands under warm, soapy water for at least 20 seconds after using the bathroom or changing diapers and before you prepare food
- Wear a condom during sexual activity
More information about hepatitis A is available at meckhealth.org.
Back in June, hundreds of customers who ate at a local Hardee's had to get a Hepatitis A shots after an outbreak was discovered there.
NBC Charlotte's Alex Shabad contributed to this report.