Two months after the county declared a Hepatitis A outbreak and a month after Gov. Jerry Brown declared it statewide, Long Beach health officials have been busy vaccinating those at-risk of getting infected—persons experiencing homelessness and some illicit drug users.
In a release sent out today, Long Beach health officials revealed the steps they are taking to prevent cases from happening locally.
“The Health Department continues to work diligently to outreach, educate, and offer the vaccine to the at-risk population,” Dr. Anissa Davis, city health officer, said in a statement. “We are taking a proactive approach to prevent local cases from occurring.”
Health officials said they have given almost 400 vaccines in the past month, having set up vaccine clinics at shelters, outreach locations and encampments with more clinics planned for November and December at various outreach locations in the city. They have also gone into Long Beach City Jail to ensure vaccines are provided to high-risk inmates.
Other efforts include collaborating with the state Department of Public Health to secure hundreds more vaccines for the high-risk populations in the city, developing a webpage and hotline [(562) 570-7907] with information, and working with hospitals, neighboring jurisdictions and CDPH regarding outbreak updates and updated recommendations.
City staff working with the homeless/at-risk population have received infection prevention and educational training. A group of about 35 staff members from different bureaus and programs have also been trained to respond to such outbreaks in case the need for workers exceeds everyday capacity, according to the release. Members from this cohort have assisted with vaccination clinics as well as outreach efforts.
Hepatitis A spreads when the virus is ingested after coming into contact with objects, food, or drinks contaminated by the feces of an infected person, officials stated. This can happen when an infected person does not wash his or her hands after going to the bathroom and touches other objects or food. It can also be spread through sex or by sharing drug paraphernalia.
“The Long Beach Health Department continues to proactively plan for potential outbreaks and remains confident that prevention efforts have played a part in avoiding an outbreak in Long Beach,” the release stated.
Long Beach Health Officials urge residents to learn more about Hepatitis A by visiting www.longbeach.gov/HepA or by calling our Public Health Information Hotline at (562) 570-7907.