“business owners shouldn’t be concerned about the cost because there’s no price on customer safety”

July 30, 2019

Dear Business Owner/Manager;

The Franklin County Commission passed an order on July 30, 2019, that requires food handlers in Franklin County to have the Hepatitis A vaccination, including appropriate boosters. Food handler is defined as:

Food Handler: person who is employed by any person or entity in any capacity which requires the preparation, handling or touching of any food (except uncut produce), utensils, serving items or kitchen or serving area surfaces or materials, in a place where food that is intended for individual service and consumption is routinely provided completely prepared, regardless of whether consumption is on or off the premises and regardless of whether there is a charge for the food. Such places include restaurants, hospital cafeterias, schools and nursing home kitchens, day care facilities, residential group homes, caterers, banquet facilities, coffee shops, cafeterias, short order cafes, luncheonettes, taverns, sandwich stands, soda fountains, food vending carts and all other eating or drinking establishments, as well as kitchens, commissaries or other places in which food or drink is prepared for individual sale elsewhere. The term does not include a private home where food is prepared for noncommercial home use, and it does not include the location of food vending machines.

The Hepatitis A vaccination is a two dose series: an initial vaccination and a booster dose six months later. Both doses are required for compliance. The order states “employers have ninety (90) days from the date of passage to vaccinate all food handlers” (with dose number one). Employers must keep records to show the health inspectors that their employees are in compliance. Good hand washing is essential in preventing the spread of disease, even after being vaccinated. Employees should know and follow hand washing guidelines at all times.

Individuals may contact their own health provider or contact the Franklin County Health Department to obtain the vaccine. For those that are uninsured, underinsured or those that meet eligibility guidelines the health department can provide the vaccine for $20.00 while supplies last. We are also able to bill most insurance companies and have a cash pay option for those that may not want to use insurance.

A copy of the Commission Order and additional information is available on our website at franklinmo.org (see Departments, see Health) and on the Franklin County Health Department Facebook page. You may also contact us at (636) 583-7300 for questions and concerns.

Here is the full rule – https://www.franklinmo.org/vertical/sites/%7B5730E807-248F-430C-88E4-9222B8E63B07%7D/uploads/2019-323.pdf 

And, some questions and answers – https://www.franklinmo.org/vertical/sites/%7B5730E807-248F-430C-88E4-9222B8E63B07%7D/uploads/Final_Q_and_A.pdf

According to press reports –

A new ordinance in Franklin County is trying to keep customers safe when they’re eating out. After more than 50 Hepatitis A cases this year, the county is requiring anyone who handles food at an establishment to get vaccinated for the virus.

Twice this year, the county had employees at restaurants that tested positive for Hepatitis A, which the CDC calls “a highly contagious liver infection.”

The county passed the ordinance last week, but on Tuesday, businesses started getting letters from the health department about compliance.

“I’m surprised this wasn’t passed a long time ago,” said Jeffrey Stevenson, who co-owns a new restaurant in Union called Union City BBQ.

He said all of his employees were already vaccinated.

The ordinance calls for not only restaurant employees to get vaccines, but also anyone handling the preparation of food in hospital cafeterias, school kitchens, daycare facilities, nursing homes, caterers and even sandwich stands.

“Anytime you’re dealing with food. You want to be safe. You want your customers to be safe,” said Stevenson.

The cost for vaccines can run close to $100, according to healthcare workers, but the ordinance says the health department may offer it at a reduced price.

Stevenson said business owners shouldn’t be concerned about the cost because there’s no price on customer safety.