Advocacy. Awareness. Access.

[BLOG POST] Hepatitis A Outbreaks in California

 

  • Click here for an update from San Diego County on the outbreak they have been dealing with, which has been linked to over 15 deaths, many of which occurred in individuals with underlying liver disease, including disease caused by hepatitis B and hepatitis C.

 

  • These outbreaks are largely affecting people who are homeless and people who inject drugs. It is imperative that people who are at risk for hep A who are not vaccinated receive vaccine as soon as possible. If your program is not doing it already, please consider strategies for helping to provide hep A vaccine onsite and/or link people to vaccination services. Also, a good opportunity to make sure people are vaccinated against hepatitis B at the same time. Here is info from the California Department of Public Health about the initial outbreaks, who should be vaccinated, and resources for vaccination.

 

  • In San Diego, for example, the county is working with Family Health Centers of San Diego (a CalHEP member) to reach out to individuals who are homeless and people who inject drugs to provide vaccine.

 

  • Providing hand sanitizer may help prevent hep A, as well, but of course is no substitute for good old soap and water.

 

  • The structural issue that is difficult to respond to is the lack of safe hygienic places for people to use the toilet and wash their hands, which is, of course, tied to larger structural issues of poverty, displacement, inequity, and our collective failure as a state and country to support people who are homeless and institute long-term solutions to end homelessness.

 

  • It is likely we will see other hep A outbreaks in the state in the near future, but let’s hope there are lessons learned from the locations that are dealing with these outbreaks so the response is quicker and stronger.