Costco Offering Free Hepatitis Vaccines To Customers Who Purchased Recalled Berries

We told you earlier this week about a hepatitis A outbreak in several states that authorities had linked to a berry mix sold at Costco stores. Now comes news that the warehouse chain is offering free vaccines to those who have eaten the recalled berries.

Since it’s advised that those exposed to hepatitis A get vaccinated within 14 days of contacting tainted product, some customers have likely already been vaccinated, while others might prefer to have the procedure done somewhere other than the Costco pharmacy. For those customers, Costco says it will reimburse the cost of the vaccine.

“It’s the right thing for us to do,” the company’s director of food safety tells The Oregonian. “We’re happy to do it.”

In addition to the original five states — Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, and New Mexico — where evidence of an outbreak has been seen, the Centers for Disease Control say this strain of hep A is now showing up in Hawaii and Utah.

Thus far, more than 60 people have fallen ill because of the tainted berries, with nearly a dozen of them being hospitalized. Hepatitis A is fatal in around 1-in-200 cases. This outbreak has yet to claim a life.

A woman in California has already filed suit against Costco and Townsend Farms, the company that makes the berry blend. She says she fell ill on May 22 after eating the eventually recalled product. As of a few days ago, she was in guarded condition at a hospital in Long Beach.

“It’s very scary that this can happen to anyone,” she told KABC-TV from her hospital room. “I guess it’s just a warning to other people.”

ABC News reports that pomegranate seeds from Turkey may be the possible culprit that tainted the entire berry batch.

“I am heartbroken over what this incident means on a larger scale. America does not grow its own food,” the daughter of one Costco customer who contracted hep A tells NeonTommy.com. “Why is produce from other countries all over our store shelves, where there is questionable oversight of the farming practices and health codes?”