TALLAHASSEE, Fla.-- Hepatitis A has had a serious impact on Florida, according to the state’s new surgeon general.
Dr. Scott Rivkees updated the Senate Health Committee on the status of the outbreak. It was declared a health emergency earlier this year.
The latest numbers show more than 3,000 cases in the state and at least 40 deaths since the start of the outbreak in 2018.
Hep A can be spread through feces and is associated with poor hygiene. Those most at risk of catching it are illicit drug uses and the homeless, Rivkees said.
He doesn't believe the outbreak will subside until many of those people are vaccinated. “According to the CDC, we need to vaccinate 80% of the high-risk population before we are going to be able to control this outbreak.”
That equates to about 392,000 people. To make it happen, Rivkees said they’ve upped resources for county health offices, started an education effort, and partnered with jails and homeless shelters.
Officials are even offering incentives like bus passes or free socks to get those leery of vaccination on board.