The California Department of Public Health will now be able to purchase vaccines directly from manufacturers and distribute them to communities affected by the Hepatitis A outbreak.
California Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency Friday over the Hepatitis A outbreak in San Diego, Los Angeles and Santa Cruz. So far the outbreak has killed 18 people and hospitalized nearly 400.
The disease spreads through contaminated feces. If an infected person doesn't wash their hands after using the bathroom, they can contaminate food, drinks and surfaces. The current outbreak is mostly hitting urban homeless communities with poor sanitary conditions
The state health department has already given out nearly 80,000 doses of the vaccine from the federal vaccine program, but said they need more to address the outbreak.
"Local public health officials are working hard to offer vaccines to people who are at the most at risk of infection, including homeless Californians,” said state public health officer Dr. Karen Smith in a statement. “Today’s order will help ensure communities can continue to deliver the vaccines where they are needed most.”
Health officials recommend anyone who has frequent, close contact with homeless populations also receive the vaccine.
Sacramento residents who are struggling to access the vaccine can call the county health department at 916-875-5881.