Los Angeles County Fire Department nurses and paramedics are joining forces in administering the hepatitis A vaccination to field personnel in clinics being held through November, thanks to special authorization given by the Emergency Medical Services Agency. Although vaccinations have not previously been included within the scope of practice for Department paramedics, California Governor Jerry Brown cleared the way for their assistance when he declared a state of emergency on October 13 because of the hepatitis A outbreak.
While the vaccination is not mandatory, Emergency Medical Services Bureau Battalion Chief Nick Berkuta shared that the purpose of providing the vaccination is to protect personnel on the front lines who are at-risk in coming into contact with patients who may be infected. The highly contagious virus can spread from close personal contact with an infected person and is able to survive outside of the body for months.
According to the California Department of Public Health, the Counties of San Diego, Santa Cruz, and Los Angeles have all declared local outbreaks. The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health has documented 14 cases with 12 hospitalizations on record as of Tuesday, October 31, with no deaths, although 21 have been reported in other parts of the state. At-risk individuals include men who have sex with men, homeless, and active drug users.
For members of the public who are interested in receiving the hepatitis A vaccination, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health has more information on where to go.