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By Miriam Raftery

October 14, 2017 (San Diego) — Governor Jerry Brown today issued an emergency proclamation to allow California to increase its supply of the hepatitis A vaccine in order to control the growing outbreak. 

“Immunizations from the federal vaccine program have been distributed to at-risk populations in affected areas, but additional supplies are needed. Today’s proclamation gives the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) authority to immediately purchase vaccines directly from manufacturers and distribute them to impacted communities,” a press release issued by the Governor’s office states. 

Of the state’s 576 hepatitis A cases in the current outbreak, San Diego accounts for 490 of them, followed by Santa Cruz with 71 cases, 8 cases in Los Angeles, and 7 elsewhere in the state.  The virulent outbreak has resulted in 386 hospitalizations statewide and 18 deaths; all of the deaths were in San Diego County, according to the California Department of Public Health website.

The transmission has been person-to-person, primarily among homeless persons and illicit drug users. But according to Brown’s proclamation, “the federally-funded supply of vaccines is inadequate to meet the State’s current needs.” 

His order instructs the state’s Department of Public Health to hold and control all vaccines intended for wholesale distribution and to prioritize vaccination of at-risk individuals in at-risk areas, which would put San Diego at the top of the list. It also waives a prohibition on Emergency Medical Technician-Paramedics from administering the vaccines and instructs the state’s Department of Health to obtain vaccines through all means necessary.

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