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BACKGROUND: Between September 2017 and June 2019, an outbreak of hepatitis A virus (HAV) occurred in Louisville, Kentucky, resulting in 501 cases and 6 deaths, predominantly among persons who experience homelessness or who use drugs (PEH/PWUD). The critical vaccination threshold (Vc) required to achieve herd immunity in this population is unknown. We investigated Vc and vaccination impact using epidemic modeling. METHODS: To determine which population subgroups had high infection risks, we employed a technique based on comparing the proportion of cases arising before and after the epidemic peak, across subgroups. We also developed a dynamic deterministic model of HAV transmission among PEH/PWUD to estimate the basic reproduction number (R0), herd immunity threshold, Vc and the effect of timing of the vaccination intervention on epidemic and economic outcomes. RESULTS: Of the 501 confirmed or probable cases, 385 (76.8%) were among PEH/PWUD. Among PEH/PWUD and within the general population, homelessness was a significant risk factor for infection in the initial stages of the outbreak (odds ratios for homeless versus not homeless: 2.62; 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.62-4.25 for PEH/PWUD and 2.39; 95% CI: 1.51-3.78 for all detected cases). Our estimate for R0 ranges between 2.85 and 3.54, corresponding to an estimate of 69% (95% CI: 65-72) for herd immunity threshold and 76% (95% CI: 72%-80%) for Vc, assuming a vaccine with 90% efficacy. The observed vaccination program was estimated to have averted 30 hospitalizations (95% CI: 19-43), associated with over US$490 000 (95% CI: $310 000-700 000) in hospitalization cost. Greater impact was observed with earlier and faster vaccination implementation. CONCLUSIONS: Vaccination coverage of at least 77% is likely required to prevent outbreaks of HAV among PEH/PWUD in Louisville, assuming a 90% vaccine efficacy. Proactive hepatitis A vaccination programs among PEH/PWUD will maximize health and economic benefits of these programs and reduce the likelihood of another outbreak.

Original publication

DOI

10.1016/j.vaccine.2021.10.001

Type

Journal article

Journal

Vaccine

Publication Date

19/10/2021

Keywords

Critical vaccination coverage, Dynamic modeling, Hepatitis A, Herd immunity, Persons who experience homelessness or who use drugs